Meet Taylor Slaton the SMU Medieval Club President

On a recent cold and rainy Saturday afternoon, I was able to sit down with Taylor Slaton, President of SMU’s one and only Medieval Club. Leader of an up-and-coming organization on campus, Slaton provided a vivid and lively snapshot of what it is like to run and be a part of this hidden gem of a club, from its regeneration to its wildly successful Monty Python movie night.

Her Campus SMU: When was the club founded? 

 

Taylor Slaton: The club was founded a while ago, actually. I don’t know the specific date because it died last year. Our membership dropped off significantly to the point where it was the president of last year and me, and that was pretty much our entire club. We’re...the Medieval Club 2.0.”

HCSMU: Why did you want to restart the club after it died off last year?

TS: It’s a really good group. Bonnie Wheeler, she’s a professor here, she used to do Medieval Teas, where the Medieval department would come and on a weekly basis on the first semester and on a monthly basis the next semester. We’d just come and talk, not necessarily about Medieval Club things; it was a way to keep in touch and to chill out. There were scones, and tea, cake and all the cool things you expect at like a High British Tea. It was really awesome.

Anyone was welcome, you didn’t have to be in the Medieval department, you didn’t have to be in a Medieval class, and if you knew about it, you were welcome in her house and you were welcome to talk to anyone you wanted. I really liked that, and I kind of wanted to bring it back to campus so that more people could get involved and more people could see that, “Hey, there’s this club,” that it didn’t matter what knowledge you had, you can still enjoy it.

HCSMU: Is that why you joined?

TS: Yeah.. I like the Medieval Ages. That part of history is really interesting, and kind of messed up. So, it’s cool to learn about. And I loved it in high school and then I saw the Medieval Club on some list my freshman year, and I couldn’t find it. I just, I couldn’t find it, I didn’t know who was in it, there wasn’t really any information online; it was really difficult to figure out what it was, and a lot of my friends actually had the same problem. Two of the other officers had the same problem as me, where we wanted to be in this club but, where is it? And so, my friend who is a business major was taking a Medieval course for UC credit, and that’s where she met Bonnie, and that’s where she heard about the teas, and we went and were like, “These people are awesome! We should do something about this.” So, I actually knew the advisor outside of the club, and I was like, “Hey, do you need any more officers?” And she was like, “Please help me! Yes!” And so, that’s kind of where it started.

Slaton also expanded upon the rapid growth the club has experienced as of late.

TS: We already have, like triple the amount of members that we had at the beginning of the year within a couple months. Which, we’re shocked at, honestly.

We held our first event, the Monty Python Night, “The Holy Grail.” And, we expected maybe ten people. So, we didn’t request that many funds - which, we got funds, which shocked all of us - we we’re like, “Wait, you approved our thing?! Cool!” We severely underestimated, we ended up getting like 30 people in. We were all sitting there, like, “There’s people! There’s people!

HCSMU: That’s good! So, are there any upcoming events?

TS: Yes! We do bi-weekly general meetings. So, coming up on the 24th [of October], we actually have someone from the Medieval department coming in to talk about witchcraft. She studied witchcraft in Europe for a while, and she is going to give a little presentation, take questions, answer them, that sort of thing. It’s kind of our Halloween, spooky meeting. The meeting after that, we’re doing an Arthurian legend meeting, so we’re going to have a contest on who can read this particularly difficult Old English passage the best. Then, they’re going to get a prize, we don’t know what it is yet, I’m not going to lie.

And then, a couple weeks after that, we’re doing a “Galavant” Night, it’ll be November 28. So, that’s kind of a, come-to-chill, come-to-study, we’re-going-to-put-Galavant-on, we’re going to have snacks, it’s kind of just a way to chill out while there’s so many tests and things going on.

HCSMU: Cool, so each meeting sort of has its own theme?

TS: Yes. Last week we had a meeting that was kind of October- it was like fall-harvest sort of thing. We had little pumpkins, and we decorated the little pumpkins, and had candy corn. They’re smaller events, but they’re kind of just there for fun, to keep the club going. They’re more social events than anything. I feel like a lot of people think the history clubs are all come-listen-to-a-lecture again, after all your classes…..this is not what the Medieval Club is. It’s more of the basic definition of what a club is, where it’s a group of people who have the same interests and like each other, so we hang out occasionally.

HCSMU: Besides Monty Python, what do you think attracts people to the club?

TS: I think people aren’t necessarily attracted to the club itself. The people that come tend to already have some sort of desire or interest in Medieval things. So, they see us and think “Oh, I should try that!” Most people don’t even know we exist, and when they do, they’re like, “Psh, that’s such a nerd thing!” It’s like, is it really nerdy, if we’re just sitting around talking? I don’t know. I feel like people are turned away from it because of, “Oh, that’s probably just lectures.” And it’s like, no, it’s really not. We barely have lectures, it’s more just discussion. Not even discussion on Medieval topics, sometimes. Last week, we discussed “Best Halloween Movies,” or something like that. It’s not necessarily, “Let’s discuss the Black Plague! All the things that happened in the Medieval times! Let’s talk about royalty, and traditions!” It’s honestly just a group of people that like hanging out.

HCSMU: So, what movie ended up being the top pick?

TS: I think it was, what was it……. “Hocus Pocus,” I think?

HCSMU: Solid choice.

When asked how she would describe the club to a person unfamiliar with the club, she said...

TS: I would describe it as…..a series of very random conversations that may or may not merge into the best Medieval play or pop culture or “What food do y’all want next week?” It’s very calm, it’s very relaxed, and it’s very nonchalant. It’s also a small enough club that there’s a level of friendship between the members. It’s not one of these clubs that has 60 people in it, so you know three people and if those people aren’t there you feel left out. It’s definitely a friendship maker, I suppose.

 

From witchcraft and “Hocus Pocus” to friendship and community, the Medieval Club definitely leaves one intrigued and wanting to learn more…. So go to a meeting! The group meets in the Scholar’s Den of Clements Hall, and welcomes all!