Students started meeting for the Gallifreyan Anthropology Club to channel their love of "Doctor Who," Drew Hayden started the club as a high school student and continued it college. PHOTO COURTESY OF GALLIFREYAN ANTHROPOLOGY CLUB FACEBOOK
Students connect over shared love for 'Doctor Who'
Drew Hayden adores science fiction — the complexity of the worlds portrayed in it and the way it can be used to satirize life. But more specifically, Hayden loves “Doctor Who,” the famed British television series about a cheeky, time-traveling alien.
Hayden channeled this interest into a group — the Gallifreyan Anthropology Club, a reference to the home planet of “Doctor Who’s” protagonist. But the Ball State student organization, which primarily functions as a weekly viewing party, isn’t really about the cult classic — it’s about the people who love it and the connection they share.
Hayden, a sophomore music education major, formed the first iteration of GAC as a high school student with few friends as interested in “Doctor Who” as he was.
What: Gallifreyan Anthropology Club meetings
When: Saturdays, 8-10:30 p.m.
Where: Art and Journalism Building Room 289
“Doctor Who” Terms
The Doctor – “Doctor Who’s” main character. He belongs to the alien Time Lord species despite his humanoid appearance. He defends the universe while traveling across time and space. The Doctor regenerates after sustaining potentially life-threatening injuries and changes physical appearance — explaining the 12 different actors that have played the character.
Companion – Friends of the Doctor, often female and human, who usually travel with him.
TARDIS – The Doctor’s form of transportation. The exterior looks like a police box from 1960s London, but the inside is larger and can change.
Gallifrey – The home planet of the Doctor.
Sonic Screwdriver – A hand-held tool used by the Doctor with several capabilities, including lock picking and computer hacking.
Dalek – A cyborg race bent on dominating the universe and destroying the Doctor.
(via “Doctor Who” Wikia)
“I simply took care of that by making everyone around me into it,” he said.
He opened his home’s basement to anyone who wanted to watch the show. Sometimes, one person would accept his invitation. Other times, 16 people showed up at his door.
The last meeting was one of those days, Hayden said. He couldn’t let a tradition that successful die when he moved from Portage, Ind., to Ball State.
"Gallifreyan Anthropology Club: College Edition" began the Saturday of Hayden’s first week at school.
“I made friends that quickly, amazingly,” he said.
About ten people showed up to watch “Doctor Who” in DeHority Complex — a number that hasn’t changed much in GAC’s three semesters.
Rachel Harvey, now the group’s public relations officer, attended one of the first informal viewings.
She was “on her way out” of an adolescent “Doctor Who” phase at the time, but watching the beginning of a season with new friends felt different — more fun.
“I just got more into it because I had more people to share it with, I guess,” the sophomore computer science major said.
She helped Hayden as he worked to make the club an official Ball State student organization.
Finally, in Spring 2015, the Office of Student Life approved the Gallifreyan Anthropology Club. It took several revisions of GAC’s constitution, one draft of which Hayden wrote as if the “Doctor Who” universe was reality.
GAC’s weekly episode viewings, while still popular, aren’t the only things GAC started when it became official.
The club is also about creating relationships with similar organizations and their members.
Last year, GAC paired up with Ball State’s Comic Book Club for a time travel night. GAC also joined other Ball State fandom organizations for a Halloween party.
Hayden began to build connections with “Doctor Who” organizations at nearby colleges: Indiana, Purdue and DePaul universities.
Neathie Patel, co-president of Indiana University’s Doctor Who Society, already wanted to meet other Indiana "Doctor Who" clubs when she received a Facebook message from GAC.
Patel and her organization’s members attended a pet project of Hayden’s: an event he dubbed Indiana Whovians United, where the college clubs merged to watch season eight of “Doctor Who.”
It was a simple concept for the mini-convention, but it meant a lot to Patel.
Some of IU’s Doctor Who Society members rarely leave their homes, she said, but they regularly attend Doctor Who Society meetings.
“[Events such as Indiana Whovians United] let people be introduced to more Whovians,” she said.
Jerome Bingham, a former Ball State student, is well aware of the positive feelings associated with hanging out with fellow “Doctor Who” fans.
He attended GAC meetings last year and liked the people he met at them. So much so that when he transferred to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis last semester, he wanted to create his own Gallifreyan Anthropology Club.
The club isn’t official — Bingham is still working on the constitution. But he has accomplished what’s arguably the most important part: meeting people.