- Monumental Magazine
The House Dad
By: Danielle Hodes
University of Maryland graduate student Raymond Flannery wakes up to shrills of girlish laughter and falls asleep to the static white noise of 43 Revlon hair dryer brushes. This is not the experience Flannery had in mind when he accepted an assistantship as a resident director for an on-campus Greek organization, the Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority house. Finding out he was placed in a sorority house shocked Flannery, but it wasn’t entirely unusual. This year, three male resident directors live in predominantly female houses and some female resident directors live in fraternity houses.
“I was really surprised- really surprised because last year was the first year that they put a male resident director in a sorority house in Maryland,” Flannery said. “So that was like, I knew that was possible, but I didn't think it was likely.”
Now, Flannery spends his Monday nights sporadically popping in for the house’s two-hour streaming session of Dancing with the Stars. Girls ogling at the screen even convinced him to vote for 90210 star Trevor Donovan.
“It's cool, it's exciting,” said Flannery, “It's not what I envisioned, but that doesn't mean it's not good for me either.”
Phi Sigma Sigma’s 2022 pledge class didn’t expect to have a ‘house dad’ either.
“I was definitely a little bit hesitant and skeptical,” said Jada Singleton, a sophomore in the sorority.
Other girls were worried their privacy would be invaded.
“I wanted to be able to like, move around the house swiftly, wearing whatever I want and not feel like I'm being judged by a man,” said Morgan Leason, a sophomore in Phi Sigma Sigma.
The resident director’s job entails notifying their chapter of inspections, overseeing utility operations in the house, enforcing the code of conduct and managing check-ins and check-outs. Flannery endured three weeks of Greek life boot camp before students populated campus. From 9 to 5, he learned about the nuances of fraternities and sororities and the ways they complement each other.
Since moving in on August 1st, Flannery hasn’t looked back. After graduating from John Carroll University, which has a student population of less than 4,000, Flannery was appreciative to come into the Greek life community at a school more than 10 times the size.
“Getting an opportunity to have, you know, interactions with the same few people every day in the house, like that's, that's exciting. I say a few, it's a lot of people” said Flannery.
In a new state, on an unfamiliar campus, Flannery can now say he has 43 new friends on campus. Girls in the house feel the same way.
“I think he truly does care about us and our well-being and what we’re doing in the house,” said Singleton.
Flannery’s efforts to build a personal relationship with every girl in the house have not gone unnoticed.
“He knows us all by name, which I think is a very good thing because it makes you feel connected,” said Ryan Glazer, a house resident.
Most girls encounter Flannery in passing and engage in polite small talk with him. He respects boundaries and rarely goes upstairs to residents’ rooms without warning.
“We can be very loud and messy and he has endless patience with us.” said Leason.
Living in the house has given an outsider an insider's perspective on Greek life. During staff meetings, Flannery and other resident directors discuss and challenge their preconceived notions about Greek life.
“[Greek life] has a stereotype of being pretty expensive and you have to kind of front the cost to buy in,” said Flannery.
Flannery aims to solve equity issues in Greek life and ease its financial burden by allocating funds to all groups and offering scholarships. In comparison to his undergraduate school, Greek life at the University of Maryland is massive, encompassing 16% of the student body.
“I was shocked to learn about how Greek life is such a big part of your life if you're in it,” said Flannery.
He’s noticed how much time and energy the executive board members of a sorority or fraternity invest in their organizations and that they have less time for other extracurriculars. The scope of Greek life on campus and its required support system is part of what attracted Flannery to the position.
“It all kind of was the perfect storm that landed me at UMD,” said Flannery.
His placement into the Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority was not random.
Flannery made a video introducing himself to all of the houses seeking resident directors. House managers made videos showcasing their Greek organizations, highlighting their values. Flannery ranked those houses based on where he believed he would fit in best.
“I don't have a background in Greek life. So that was a little bit of [like] a hurdle for me to feel like I would feel comfortable somewhere,” said Flannery.
He remembered the Phi Sigma Sigma house manager boasting their sisterhood cafe and its bagel drawer permanently stocked with fresh bagels, a lifeline for sorority girls at Friday brunch. Before moving in, Flannery heard about the sorority’s beautiful, newly renovated house. “It definitely lives up to the expectation,” said Flannery.
After five months of living in the house, Flannery has acclimated. He has adjusted his schedule around weekly sorority events.
“I think I've gotten used to the flow of it now and honestly, like, I wouldn't change it,” said Flannery.
Late-night graduate classes keep Flannery in sync with the nearly nocturnal schedule of sisters in the house. Most girls in the house sleep past noon. To which Flannery replied, “Ok, well, then I fit right in.”
Raymond Flannery with the women of Phi Sigma Sigma.