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The hidden treasures of last weekend’s O-Fest

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Alyson Smith, the president of the Medieval Society, plays 9 Man’s Morris during O-Fest. Photo by Erin Heffernan/erin.heffernan@marquette.edu

At any given moment on Marquette’s campus, you may catch Club Quidditch passing the Quaffle, Ducks Unlimited discussing how to best protect our nation’s waterfowl or the philosophy club pondering life’s big questions. Though these subcultures within the Marquette community may not always be visible, they are vibrant.

It is one of the things that makes Marquette great. No matter how obscure your interests or esoteric your knowledge, there are likely to be people here who share your tastes, and there is probably already a club dedicated to your biggest pursuits. And if not, all students have the power to create new clubs of their own if they are so inclined.

Sean Comiskey, a senior in the College of Communication, did just that last year. As the first president of Marquette’s Tea Club, Comiskey has created one of the most novel new student organizations on campus. The Tea Club is exactly what its name denotes: a group of students dedicated to drinking and discussing tea.

The club made its debut at this year’s O-Fest with a colorful table and a generous supply of cool, refreshing iced tea. “I drink a lot of tea, and basically all my friends are really into it,” Comiskey said, standing behind his organization’s table. “So we kind of went for it.”

The club plans to focus on a different tea at each monthly meeting. It will explore the culture, history and origins of the tea before letting members test the drink. Its focus is to bring a love and knowledge of tea culture to Marquette, all the while living by the classic tea motto “It’s all in the steeping.”

Two tables away from the Tea Club at O-Fest sat a table displaying a very different world. The Gamer’s Association’s members manned their station by calling out to passersby, “Do you like games?” The club plays Dungeons and Dragons as well as other role-playing games in genres like “cyber punk fantasy,” “political dystopia” and “Old West cowboy adventure.” However, it is just as open to childhood classics like Apples to Apples or Candyland.

“We would play Shoots & Ladders if someone brought it,” club scribe Nick Conrardy said. But for Conrardy, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, it’s the role-playing games that truly provide “the ultimate social experience.”

The Gamer’s Association is composed of a close-knit group of members who regularly meet outside of meetings for long role-playing sessions, where they transform from Marquette undergrads into cowboys, mythical creatures or warriors.

The association’s vice president, Peter Gentile, a senior in the College of Communication, summed up his connection to the Gamer’s Association this way: “Some people act. Some people paint. I play games.”

Next to the gamers at O-Fest was Marquette’s Medieval Society, behind a table festooned with a poster marked “Chivalry isn’t dead yet!” in large calligraphy. Adding to the display were a battle-worn helmet, a tunic replete with chainmail and members playing the Medieval game 9 Man’s Morris.

This year, the club plans to make origami catapults, study calligraphy, eat original medieval recipes and attend an annual event called “The Feast of Boar’s Head.”

“Everyone who goes (to Boar’s Head) will dress up in garb like they’re from the Middle Ages,” said club president Alyson Smith, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. “We eat medieval food, (and) there are shops and you can watch people fight.”

Fighting practices are another central part of Medieval Society. Members dress up in metal armor and battle with wooden swords. They reenact duels of the past, all the while tucked away in the practice room next to BookMarq.

Smith admitted that fighting practice involves “mostly men because I think they like hitting each other more than we do. But I don’t know.”

These lesser-known clubs are marked by a love for their purposes. Though some spend their time sipping green tea and others thrive on battles and history, the members of these unique groups share an attitude of appreciation, lingering on how lucky they are to have found people who share their passions.

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