He may share a name with a famous commodore and a famous Friends character, but Matt Perry ’11 is a campus celebrity in his own right. This week he sat down with The Argus to discuss his roles as former president of Psi-U and co-chair of the Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) programming committee, and why everyone seems to know his name.
The Argus: Whenever I mentioned this interview, students were surprised you hadn’t been a WesCeleb already. Why do you think this is?
Matt Perry: I was president of Psi-U last year, but I think it’s mostly because I remember everyone’s name when I meet them.
A: Did you always know you would be a part of Greek life at Wesleyan?
MP: No, not at all. I was kind of anti-frat, at least I was when I was in high school. But I found Psi-U to be a cool place with cool people. In a basic sense, a frat is just a group of guys who share common goals and mentalities. The purpose of the organization is to accomplish things that one person can’t do alone. In four years, Psi-U could easily become a stereotypical frat, depending on the guys. But right now it’s a pretty good cross-section of campus.
A: How did you go from anti-frat to president, and what did the job entail?
MP: It’s an election. The process is an internal thing. I never thought I would do something like that, but some of the older guys encouraged me to run. There are different tangents of what Psi-U does—pledging, rush, social, community service, the physical house, university relations, the budget, and relations with alumni and parents. There is someone in charge of each of those things, and I governed and managed the whole thing, so if something goes wrong in one of those areas or if you want something to happen, the president is responsible. When I stepped in I focused on bringing the various Greek organizations on campus together.
A: Was collaboration among the frats unprecedented?
MP: There was an event sponsored by the administration, but we wanted something that was by us, for us. Relations among the frats change from year to year—last year it was really good. Two years ago, though, we had some inter-frat rivalries, which led to people stealing stuff from the other houses.
A: What work do you do, now that a new president has taken over?
MP: All of the real work is done by sophomores and juniors, so when you’re a senior your job is to go down to the house and tell them when they’re screwing up. Just criticize and enjoy. It’s pretty great.
A: You’re pretty involved with Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO). How did you become involved and what do you do with the group?
MP: One of my good friends went to the school that Kennedy started. I’m the co-chair of the programming committee. I help with the organization and planning of all the basic events.
A: Now, I heard you were featured in the New York Times, modeling clothes with other Wesleyan students. How did you land the modeling gig, and where did you get your sense of style?
MP: During freshman orientation, they were taking down names of people. I had to wear these felt pants that cost like $785. When the picture came out, it didn’t look that ridiculous, but on me they were absurd. I guess I got [my sense of style] from my mom and my sisters. I have two older sisters who would give me shit if I ever wore something ugly.
A: You’re also a math major—where did you get your interest in math?
MP: Math was something that was a default for me in high school—it was something I was good at, but didn’t find that interesting. But when I came here, it became difficult, and being difficult made it interesting. It became a challenge that I was good at.
A: Was your high school different than Wesleyan?
MP: It was a classic high school where, you know, being normal and being good at sports were the only things that were important. I looked for a place where being bland wasn’t the norm and that was Wesleyan for me.
A: How often were you compared to Matt Perry who plays Chandler on Friends?
MP: A lot, especially when I was in high school. I don’t like it—I’d much prefer to be associated with Commodore Perry, who opened up Japan to the West.