NATALIE BLOOM | STAFF REPORTER
To some, college is a place for students to grow as independent individuals. While the freedom is nice, sometimes you just need your mom.
Many sorority and fraternity members have supportive women in their lives who take on the role of mother figures during the school year. These women are known as house moms.
The majority of Greek organizations on campus have a house mom. House moms live in an apartment tucked away in their own area of the Greek house, complete with a kitchen, bedroom and living area.
Their main position is managerial. Paula White, Lambda Chi Alpha’s house mom, said house moms keep the home running by managing maintenance, handling invoices and paying the bills. White is going on her fourth year as a house mom.
“I do a lot of property management,” White said. “Basically, it is keeping the house running: plumbing, mechanical, the staff.”
Alpha Phi’s house mom Mary Thompson said she handles the behind-the-scenes work that needs to be done to keep the house running.
“Whenever something goes wrong, we know who to call,” she said.
They come from varying backgrounds. White previously owned her own business and went to culinary school before she stumbled upon an online application to be a house mom.
Thompson had been a property manager until an injury caused her to seek a new workplace environment. Both of them have children who are out of college and living independently.
When the Greek organizations host philanthropy events and open houses, the house moms are present to support the members and answer questions.
“I help the girls when they have functions going on, which seems to be every other day,” Thompson said. She is used to the hustle and bustle of Greek life after being a house mom for 10 years. “We have open houses, parents’ days, Homecoming. I kind of serve as a hostess for events.”
However, the two house moms agreed the most enjoyable part of their job is building relationships with their members.
“It is so hard to explain to people,” Thompson said. “I am a mom, except I have a big family. They remind you of how great life can be.”
White said staying around the guys of Lambda Chi Alpha helps keep her young.
“They are genuinely really great guys,” she said. “They are great, respectful. They have been raised really well. They are hard-working, they are smart. I have a lot of respect for these boys.”
The relationship White said, is mutual—the members of Lambda call her “mom” with affection.
“My door is always open,” she said. “I think they know that they can come talk to me about anything.”
However, house moms must maintain the perfect balance between maternal, friendly and professional relationships.
White stresses that lines do have to be drawn.
“You want to be friends with them, but you cannot be hanging out with them all the time,” she said.
Granted, this job is not made for everyone.
Noise is frequent, particularly on the weekends in fraternities.
However, house moms have adapted to living with college students.
White has a fan in her room to help block out the noise, she said.
“If you are a house director, that’s something you have to be able to live with,” she said. “I don’t even notice it anymore. I think I am immune.”
With jobs as house moms, these lively women are just that to their members: moms.
Thompson and White said house moms are always available to talk to their members about anything, whether they are seeking personal advice, help with academics or simply a good time.
The members have nothing but nice things to say about their house moms.
The members of Lambda Chi Alpha greet White joyfully and converse casually about their days and plans for the upcoming evening.
The amiability is true of Alpha Phi as well.
The girls greet Thompson excitedly with hugs, exclaiming things like, “She is the best house mom ever,” and “I love Mama Mary!”
White said living on a college campus as a grown adult definitely keeps you on your toes.
They have to be ready to expect the unexpected. After doing this for years, White and Thompson said they have seen just about everything that could happen on a college campus, good and bad.
All in all, being a house mom is “the best job in the world,” Thompson said. “I always tell my girls I am going to write a book when I retire.”