Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
As the housing lottery looms nearer, The Daily Gazette sat down with Max Wilson ’10 and Mark Czernyk ’11, residents of the Phi Psi house, to discuss their interesting living situation.
Daily Gazette: What is it like to live here in the Phi Psi house?
Max Wilson: I love it. I definitely think that housemate dynamic between Mark and I is really something special because we have an ownership/caretaker responsibility about this house that you don’t really get with the dorm experience. On top of that, we can also make and change this environment to our needs and whims. For example, we painted the basement walls Lincoln berry, which is a mild peach color.
Mark Czernyk: We moved in this semester, but in the past, Max and I have just been here fixing up the house and because we spent so much time here, we were given a lot of responsibility.
MW: An important thing about the history of people living in the house is that very few people actually lived in Phi Psi and it fell into disrepair. Not to use Ville rat as a derogatory term, but Ville rats would break in and steal things when nobody was living here. One other person named Adam Wineger ‘08, who graduated last year, lived upstairs but on a very meager status; he just slept here. We’re the first people in ten years to reoccupy the house and have a sense of ownership over it.
DG: How did you two decide to live here?
MC: Last year, I was fed up with the whole dorm thing and wanted to be on my own. I knew as a sophomore that I wouldn’t be getting a single anywhere else. I spent enough time here anyway so I just came to the decision to live here. I talked to Max, who is one of my best friends, and we thought it would be a cool idea. We both wanted to improve the house and make it our own. We saw a lot of potential.
MW: We definitely saw a potential in the house that nobody else saw.
DG: What are the advantages and disadvantages of living here?
MW: The location is probably one of the best advantages of living in the house. I think this is the only living space on campus where you can actually walk through Sharples on your way to class. In the morning, we have no trouble getting food and eating breakfast. We’re also both student athletes so the gym is really close.
MC: Paces is really close to our house. I don’t have to worry about keeping nachos in my room because I can just walk to Paces.
MW: I also make a point to go to every show and venue at Olde Club and the Kitao Gallery. For example, last week, I went to the poetry reading, the Olde Club show, and the transgender photography exhibit.
DG: Do you guys ever miss dorm life?
MW: Every so often, I would say there might be like a lack of a sense of community but it doesn’t outweigh the benefits of living here.
DG: With weekend parties and events, is there an obligation to clean up and fix up the house the next day?
MC: No, Max and I are pretty much disconnected from the rest of the fraternity, our area is really a no-trespass area. During the parties, the main floor would get used. There would be empty solo cups everywhere and the furniture would get a little disheveled, but our area is pretty much untouched. We’re responsible for our own space and most of the other fraternity members do most of regular party maintenance.
MW: We do home improvement type of activities, such as hooking up cable, replacing toilet paper in the downstairs bathroom, and fixing light fixtures. We try to bring the image of the fraternity up a little bit because intrinsically, we’re connected with the fraternity.
DG: So what are your other types of responsibilities around the house besides the home improvement aspect?
MW: We currently have this pet project… downstairs, there’s a public area that’s completely neglected and we’re slowly cleaning up using funds from the fraternity. We’ve repainted the place, threw out the crappy furniture, and mopped the floors. We hope that we can debut the new public place by the next upcoming party or near the end of the semester. We also agreed that there are non-academic spaces that this campus is lacking and we want to help create a kind of camaraderie among students.
MC: We also want to improve the house’s ambiance.
DG: How would you compare your experience living here to people’s experiences living in the DU house?
MC: I think Phi Psi historically has been second place in funding; it seems like DU has gotten more attention. We’ve always been dilapidated and a little bit more homey. We’re trying to put a more personal touch because with DU, it doesn’t seem it needs the house work that Phi Psi needs. I feel like we’re at a cusp here.
DG: How did you guys get to live here?
MW: You fill out the intent form to live off-campus, don’t show up to the lottery, and then make out a check to the fraternity. Living in the fraternity is significantly less than living in the dorms, which is another draw to living here.
DG: Are there any common misconceptions about the Phi Psi house that you would like to disprove?
MW: We want to promote healthy social atmospheres just as much as the deans do. We would like to think of ourselves selfless in our endeavors.
MC: We try to create a very friendly environment. I have a rule here that you can’t really argue. We try to have a chill zone.
MW: In the basement, I have multiple instruments down there, such as a guitar, ukelele, piano. Mark also likes to play music on his laptop. He’s a DJ on campus and we like to have jam sessions. As for other misconceptions, I guess people really connect us to the fraternity itself, which isn’t always the case. We’re not really high standing members in the frat; we just happen to live here.
MC: We’re trying to bring a new flavor to the Phi Psi experience. We don’t want to just be fratty dudes who play Beirut.
DG: Are there any more things that you would like for the student body to know about you guys and living here?
MW: I would say definitely don’t be afraid to come over here and hang out. New faces are definitely more welcome than the same old same old.
MC: People should feel free to come by, knock on our doors, and hang out here.