While the first film in the Star Wars franchise was released in 1977, its legacy lives on in McKeldin Library’s second floor. 

There, students gather every Tuesday to talk about everything Star Wars

Daniel McLawhorn, a senior electrical engineering major and the Star Wars Club’s president, created the club as a way to bring Star Wars fans together and create lasting friendships. He noticed how other organizations were hyperfocused on their goals and only communicated with each other at their events or meetings, he said.  

McLawhorn wanted to create a community of this university’s Star Wars fans last year. But he couldn’t pursue the idea due to an overwhelmingly busy semester. 

“It was always sitting in the back of my mind,” McLawhorn said. “This semester, I’ve got a bit of a lighter course load … It’s time for me to get moving on this idea.”

McLawhorn advertised by putting up fliers around campus with a QR code directing students to a GroupMe chat. In the chat, McLawhorn shares club announcements or news. Some students take on personas and roleplay over text as actual characters.

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He hopes members form connections outside of the club and branch out into other topics.

As of April 10, the chat has 50 members — all ecstatic about the club’s establishment. One of them is senior cinema and media studies major Jacob Chrispim, who said the films have deeply impacted his life. 

“It’s been a reason why I’m passionate about film in the first place,” Chrispim, wearing a Star Wars T-shirt, said. “So much of what I learned about the craft, I learned from studying how those movies were made. Especially the behind-the-scenes documentaries about the groundbreaking technology … It’s a big part of why I chose the major I did.”

Freshman criminology and criminal justice major Erin Thomas, whose favorite Star Wars characters are the Ewoks, is looking forward to socializing with others who share her passion for Star Wars. It’s a passion she’s had since she was 4 years old.

“It’s been an aspect of my life throughout the whole part of it … It’s just always been there,” Thomas said.

When registration opens for next semester, McLawhorn hopes to establish a large enough community to have the club officially recognized by this university. He aspires to keep the club going for future students.

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For now, the Star Wars Club serves as a bonding medium for members and aims to create lasting friendships. At the club’s weekly meeting, students talk about various topics — the films, the multiple spin-off series on Disney+, upcoming video games, what characters they relate to and what Star Wars means to them.

[Star Wars] has something for everyone that can bring people together,” McLawhorn said. “There’s action, romance, drama, political thrillers, Western vibes. Whether you’re reading the books, playing video games, watching movies or shows there’s a little bit of something for everyone.”