‘… Let the Sorting now begin’

Feb. 28, 2018, 1:00 a.m.

As a member of the Harry Potter Generation – Bloomsbury published “Sorcerer’s Stone” the year I was born – I tend to mesh pieces of my identity with my Hogwarts House. I’m a Ravenclaw, so I’m original, open-minded and intellectual (at least, that’s what I write on my resume). JK Rowling introduces an uncomplicated dichotomy of the four Houses in which Slytherins are villains, willingly or unwillingly, Gryffindors are heroes (with the exception of Peter Pettigrew) and Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs are extras who occupy the school corridors. (Or, if you’re more than a casual HP fan, Ravenclaws are seen as snobby nerds and Hufflepuffs are useless stoners.)

In truth, the situation is a lot more nuanced than that; yes, House affiliations are an easy shorthand for early introductions, but Sortings take place according to a person’s principles and their characteristics. Like the Myers-Briggs test so hated by the psychology department or procrastinatory Buzzfeed quizzes, Sortings don’t capture the complete nuance of a person, but they do allow like-minded individuals to find each other. After all, it surprises no one that Stanford sports a high percentage of Slytherins and Ravenclaws. Even within our closed campus, though, we have our House loyalties – our secretive clubs, our niche interests, our effortless friendships.  

(Personally, Sorting college students strikes me as much more likely to produce reliable results than Sorting prepubescent children; as Dumbledore says, “Sometimes I think we Sort too soon.”)


  • In the Sorting Hat’s song:

         “Or perhaps in Slytherin

You’ll make your real friends,

          Those cunning folk use any means

          To achieve their ends.”

  • Translation: Ambitious, driven, goal-oriented, determined, resourceful, adaptable, charming, loyal, strategic
  • At Stanford:
    • Startup bros: Those 19-year-old entrepreneurs with designer sunglasses and spiky haircuts that should scream “early 2000s boy band!!” but somehow don’t and who take periodic phone calls from their “colleagues” in the middle of a conversation at Coupa? The modern Slytherin at work.
    • The Stanford Daily staff: You know those forensics students from high school who wore mini pantsuits and spent their Saturdays at regional tournaments? They all graduated from debate to The Daily.
    • Stanford Law students: What’s more ambitious and resourceful than subsisting solely on caffeine pills and case law?


  • In the Sorting Hat’s song:

          “Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,

           if you’ve a ready mind,

          Where those of wit and learning,

          Will always find their kind.”

  • Translation: Analytical, curious, creative, witty, observational, introspective, independent, idiosyncratic
  • At Stanford:
    • Stanford Shakespeare Society (StanShakes): There is nothing more iconically artistic for the sake of art than reimagining English literary works from the 16th century.
    • Spoken Word Collective: Introspection, political tirades, mocking Rupi Kaur … Professor Flitwick would be proud.
    • SLE: Does this really require an explanation?


  • In the Sorting Hat’s song:

         “You might belong in Hufflepuff,

          Where they are just and loyal,

          Those patient Hufflepuffs are true

          And unafraid of toil.”

  • Translation: Hard-working, tenacious, loyal, fair, accepting, compassionate, patient, dependable, honest
  • At Stanford:
    • Band: Some might believe Band to be a bunch of Gryffindors, due to their irreverence and brashness and the stubbornness needed to ignore constant criticism, but they’re Hufflepuff through and through – their hours of practice, their cult-like community and their harmless pranks are proof that Band are all badgers. (Not to mention that the Band Shak is conveniently reminiscent of the Hufflepuff Common Room.)
    • Side by Side: What could be more Hufflepuff than singing to seniors in your spare time?
    • Synergy: Synergy’s generosity of spirit is so perfectly Hufflepuff that it should be an obvious Sorting. There’s the cheap quip about Synergy, a Hufflepuff and a drug habit, but the more compelling parallel is the easy-natured straightforwardness that strikes me every time I’m at Synergy.


  • In the Sorting Hat’s song:

         “You might belong in Gryffindor,

          Where dwell the brave at heart,

          Their daring, nerve, and chivalry 

          Set Gryffindors apart.”

  • Translation: Passionate, playful, daring, impulsive, idealistic, stubborn, blunt, self-righteous, resilient
  • At Stanford:
    • SPOT leaders: God knows it’s gutsy to voluntarily chaperone incoming freshmen in the wilderness for a week. Truly the epic heroes of the 21st century.
    • The Stanford 500: You think that Hermione Granger wouldn’t have been a Hogwarts tour guide? That the Weasley twins wouldn’t have roasted Ilvermorny in a Gaieties-style show? That Lily and James Potter weren’t the equivalent of the cool RAs? This is the truth and you know it.
    • Kappa Kappa Gamma (Kappa): Memorable for their self-assuredness, enthusiasm and high energy, Kappas are a microcosm for the House hijinks in the “Harry Potter” series; if anyone on this Slytherclaw-controlled campus is a Gryffindor, it’s a Kappa.

And if you’re on this list more than once, your Sorting’s up to you. The advantage of real-world Sortings is that they’re fleeting, not fixed — and that you’re allowed to do it yourself, whenever and however you want.


Argue with Claire Francis about Harry Potter at claire97 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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