Doctor Who Club brings sci-fi fans together

Photo credit: BBC.

Every Monday at 7 p.m, Baker Center Room 341 ceases to be a mere room. It’s temporarily transformed into a TARDIS, wherein Ohio University students can set off on fantastic adventures alongside the Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, and his companions. At least, that’s what Kailey Copelin and Courtenay Balvin—proprietors of Doctor Who Club, a student organization dedicated to the BBC science fiction program “Doctor Who”—would like to think.

The club is the result of almost a year’s worth of hard work by Copelin and Balvin. The idea for the club came last Halloween, when Balvin—dressed as the Doctor’s companion Amy Pond—noticed a large number of fellow “Doctor Who” fans dressed accordingly.

“Last Halloween, we pretty much talked to every person who had a ‘Doctor Who’ costume on,” Balvin said. “That’s what got the idea in my head, that there are so many people that are interested in (‘Doctor Who’), and it would be really great to be able to share that interest with those people.”

In order to start at club at OU, students have to find a willing faculty member to serve as an adviser, a process Copelin said seemed almost “impossible.”

After spending months searching for advisers and sending countless emails, Balvin and Copelin finally stumbled across Kirsten Laufenberg, the residential coordinator for Gamertsfelder, Tiffin and Brian Halls. A friend of one of the girls’ RAs, Laufenberg said the club was a natural fit for her due to her love of sci-fi and fantasy.

“My RAs know I’m super into ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Lord of the Rings,’ anything fantasy,” Laufenberg said. “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hang out with Doctor Who Club every week.”

Since Laufenberg came to the club’s rescue, Doctor Who Club has had three meetings and attracted around 25 people on its busiest day, Laufenberg said.

Balvin said that OU students find “Doctor Who” enjoyable because it places normal, relatable characters in fantastic situations.

“It’s mostly normal people reacting to different situations,” Balvin said. “They see the whole world, and all these different aliens, but… they’re still relatable, and you see it from their eyes.”

Copelin said this element of relatability is extended by the series’ tradition of “regeneration”: every few seasons, the Doctor is killed off, only to be reborn with a new personality (and actor). Throughout the show’s 49-year lifespan, there have been 11 different Doctors, each offering a new perspective for fans to identify with.

Copelin said her favorite Doctor is the quirky, hyperactive Tenth Doctor portrayed by David Tennant.

“Everyone can connect with a certain Doctor,” Copelin said. “When someone says ‘Doctor Who,’ that’s who pops into their mind, and for me it’s David Tennant.”

When asked if her preference had anything to do with Tennant’s physical appearance, Copelin said, “No. Well, yes, but no.”

So far, Doctor Who Club meetings have consisted of a short icebreaker or trivia game, a screening of a “Doctor Who” episode, then a discussion about that episode or the show in general. However, Balvin, Copelin and Laufenberg said they have more ambitious plans for when membership increases. They intend on doing everything from holding a costume night to incorporating “Doctor Who”-related snacks to building a replica TARDIS—the blue police box the Doctor uses to travel through time and space—to move around campus for awareness.

Regardless of what happens in the club’s future, however, Laufenberg said Doctor Who Club will always remain a venue for “Doctor Who” fans to make new friends, meet new people and share in the common love of “Doctor Who.”

“It’s one of those shared experiences,” Laufenberg said. “(‘Doctor Who’) is a ‘commonality’ thing where you want to reach out to other people.”


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