The Argus was fortunate enough to sit down with Peter Dunphy ’18 before he had to run to his very first Taiko drumming class. Sporting a mean groufit, Dunphy discussed with equal fervor his passion for politics and personal involvement with the Kardashian dynasty, all the while revealing a little about what a day on the job at ’Swings really entails.
The Argus: Why do you think you were nominated as a WesCeleb?
PD: I think that I am a very active person at Wesleyan. Not even in terms of extracurriculars, though I do write for The Arcadia. I’ve been working at WesWings—otherwise known as ’Swings—since freshman year and I like to say I am the face of ’Swings, I’m the HBIC [Head Bitch In Charge]. We’ve organized a labor union at ’Swings, to demand more rights, including tips. We have yet to hear back from management, so I think there’s a proletariat revolution coming at ’Swings. In general, I’m almost like a Paris Hilton or a Kim Kardashian-type figure. They’re famous for being famous.
A: You mentioned that you do The Arcadia, can you elaborate on that?
PD: Yeah, so The Arcadia is Wesleyan’s political magazine on campus. Hannah Skopicki [’18] started it my freshman year. I am an associate editor and I have done some communication work for the magazine, so I’m basically the reincarnation of Anthony Scaramucci. I think maybe my personality is a mixture between Kim Kardashian’s grace and Anthony Scaramucci’s grit.
A: You’ve already brought up the Kardashians a few times, are you a big fan?
PD: I would say that I’m more of a social observer of the phenomenon. We really obsess about a family that does nothing and it’s almost like this weird form of class fetishization. I’ve actually tried to become an undercover decoy into the family. Like some CIA type stuff. Like, come on, that would be the best thesis ever written in Wesleyan history. Bible, Kourtney: A Kritical Kardashian Study. Ever since I watched an episode where Kris said they built a new office for their intern while renovating their house, I’ve sent in a legit cover letter and resume to their booking agent every year. I have probably sent over 20 emails with cover letters and follow-ups. I haven’t gotten any response. Maybe they’re onto me. They’re probably spying on me through my Alexa.
A: I’m sure they are. So, what are some other things that you’re passionate about besides the Kardashians?
PD: Well, as I might have let on with my work for The Arcadia, I am very passionate about politics. I’m definitely a numbers cruncher and a policy cruncher. I don’t really consume much fun media. It’s all about information, just reading the newest stuff on Politico, maybe some new papers that are coming out from [the National Bureau of Economic Research]. You definitely don’t want to be behind, especially if you want to be a power player in D.C.
A: Have you always been into politics, or did that develop at Wes?
PD: Definitely I’ve always been into politics. I grew up near D.C. and the D.C. lifestyle means that you’re raised on politics. It’s a family business.
A: Didn’t you go to boarding school?
PD: I did, but…that’s not really important.
A: Right… Okay, so do you think your interests/priorities have you changed since freshman year?
PD: I think I started to realize that there’s so many different things you can get out of college. You’ll be pulled in a lot of different directions and I think when you’re a freshman, you’re pulled more towards a party lifestyle or direction, where there’s this initial pressure to be going out all the time. I think as you grow, you gain a better awareness that you have all these different outlets on campus that you can choose to pursue and there’s so many different things you can choose to prioritize. So, I think I’ve been able to get a better awareness of what I want to get out of college—that being able to cultivate meaningful relationships is important. Like, even just being able to live in a house with four of my best friends is significant.
A: You mentioned other outlets you’ve found besides partying, what are some of those other outlets?
PD: I think it was hard for me as a freshman to be able to approach people and have relationships with people outside of a party setting, and I think as I matured, I realized that a relationship that’s predicated on partying is going to be a finite relationship. I have become more interested in cultivating real, genuine relationships. After going to boarding school, I know the sad reality is that once you graduate, there’s going to be a lot of people you never see again, or you see in passing. So, as a senior, I’m trying to focus on who I’ve cultivated meaningful relationships with and to enjoy my time with those people.
A: Revisiting your experience at ’Swings, have you ever had a particularly memorable shift while working there?
PD: Actually yes, my freshman year. I had to work dinner on Spring Fling, which was not a cute look. Let me just say, sooo many people come to Swings for dinner on Spring Fling. I got to participate in the festivities and go to 20 minutes of the main act at 4:30. Then, one of my good friends who graduated last year, Callie [Monroe ’17], and I came into Swings for our shift. And something about that shift at Swings is that everyone somehow magically gets sick or magically their grandma is visiting. So, we’re short-staffed and Callie and I were not really in the right mindset. Also, it was so hot. So, I’m sweating and trying to put the tickets down and at a certain time, I just start dozing off. I haven’t watched Deliverance, but it made me think of Deliverance.
A: Well, The Argus is really sorry you had to go through that. On the flip side, what’s your favorite Wesleyan memory?
PD: I would say Zonker Harris Day is one of my favorite days at Wesleyan each year. It’s not even about any of the festivities, just the idea that everyone sits on Foss. There’s not like some main event like Spring Fling to distract everyone, it’s just a uniting day where it feels like all different social circles are together, which is really interesting. Really, my American Studies skills are harnessed in that situation.
A: Do you have any plans for post-graduation?
PD: Oh boy, I have two interviews this week. I’m hoping to work for two years, something related to law or politics, and then maybe try to do a graduate student program abroad. And then, go to law school…and change the world… You could say I’m going to be the Kris Jenner of law. Kris Jenner because she changed the game.
A: Speaking of going abroad, you took a semester abroad last year, right?
PD: Yes, so I went abroad to Havana, Cuba, which was a lituation. It was the craziest time I could imagine going. Donald Trump had just won, so we saw the entire rise. And in Cuba that was a big deal because it meant that tourism would be shut down. Fidel Castro died while I was there, so I saw some of the fallout from that. More than anything, though, I think it was a place where every interaction I had on the street either challenged notions I already had or made me critically engage in something, whereas I think at a certain point at Wesleyan, it’s easy to become comfortable.
I took a political economy of capitalism course at the University of Havana and it was just interesting to see the way national stories are developed and harnessed by each country in order to explain themselves. In the U.S., I’m able to see the way we cultivate our national story and the way we talk about Cuba. Then in Cuba, I was able to see the reverse. I think in that way, I really did gain a lot of insight on how history is cultivated. Also, just being able to see communism on display in real, practical terms I found to be a useful supplement to it as an abstract theory I had read about at Wes. I concentrate in American government, so I wanted to go abroad in a place where I could learn more about America.
Claudia Stagoff-Belfort can be reached at email@example.com.