Pi Beta Phi House Boys
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Pi Beta Phi House Boys

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Pi Beta Phi House Boys

Two houseboys of Pi Beta Phi spoke with me about life behind the scenes in the Pi Phi kitchens. 

Serving spoonfuls of stories this week, I met with Joseph Barnes, a junior biomechanical engineering major and member of Sigma Pi, and Tyler Sekine, a junior computer electrical engineering major with a music minor and member of Alpha Tau Omega. 

Barnes works through Keystone Food Service at several sorority chapter on campus, Pi Phi being one of them. He works primarily at Delta Delta Delta, but also picks up shifts at Pi Phi, Kappa Delta, and recently, Chi Omega. Sekine has been working for Pi Phi for two years, and said he picked up the job from a friend of his. 

To be a houseboy, you have to know a houseboy, right? Wrong. Barnes is the first exception to this rule I ‘ve interviewed since starting this series. He said he heard about the houseboy position from a friend whose dad met his wife through being a houseboy. Barnes recalled that a week later one of his Sigma Pi brothers asked who was interested in being a houseboy, “and I was like, sign me up.” Unlike most houseboys who inherit their position from a friend or brother, Barnes didn’t replace any other houseboys. “No, I was completely fresh,” Barnes said. 

Boys will become houseboys for a variety of different reasons. For some, they need the free food and the money. For others, like Sekine, it’s an opportunity to expand one’s social circle, which he said is his favorite thing about being a houseboy. “We (all the Pi Phi houseboys) are all there to get to know the girls and make relationships, in different ways,” Sekine said. “Getting the houseboy position and getting to know the girls in their home is a little different." Sekine said this is because he sees the Pi Phi women in their natural environment. “I think they act a lot different than in public places, because when you’re in your home, everything’s kind of let free and that’s the atmosphere that’s always around the dinner table,” Sekine said. “So when we’re eating with them, everything flies. The secrets fly, the gossip sometimes flies, so I think they are a lot more free when they’re around the house."

Sekine enjoys seeing the women relax and be themselves. “I think their stereotype is a little more stiff, I hear that a lot," he said. "But when you get in there and everyone’s having fun, they’re like any other sorority, I would think. Everyone’s there for the sisterhood and to make friends and to have a good time."

Speaking of gossip flying, the most overheard topic at Pi Phi dinners is who’s dating whom, according to Sekine. “Everyone’s looking for boyfriends, so I hear a lot about their dates and outings,” Sekine said. With all that insider information, Sekine puts his talents to good use. “We bought them a bunch of chocolates for Valentine’s day, serenaded them, played the guitar and sang to them,” he said. “Every Christmas I come by and I play the cello, so I’ll play Christmas tunes for one of the dinners for an hour or so.”

When it comes down to actually working at the house, Barnes said they do the “typical kitchen stuff." Right now at Pi Phi, there are four or five houseboys, so they all work a lot. “I’m at different houses. At Tri Delt they have four shifts a day, at Pi Phi they have way more and different hours, so I can work at this house and go straight over to that house and get two shifts in, because they don’t all match up,” Barnes said. “And if one house makes a better tetrazzini, you can just go to that house [for dinner].”

“The most annoying thing is just the aspect of actually working,” Sekine said. “Just the fact that when I’m eating lunch with some girls my boss comes out and starts yelling at me to get back to the kitchen and working.”

At Pi Phi, the houseboys come into the dining room and eat every dinner with the girls, so they pick up on some interesting conversations. “Just last week I heard a conversation about the longest it’s been since they’ve showered,” Sekine said. “And some of them were ranking up there, they were counting the days, and we were like, ‘What? Are you sure about that?’ but they said that was a long time ago, so I’m sure they’re clean now.”  

Both Barnes and Sekine agreed that the houseboy position is perfect for college guys, and that they would tell other guys to become houseboys. “Just so long as they don’t take any shifts that I have,” Barnes said. “It’s a pretty good gig. I’m always trying to get my friends to join and I don’t know why they don’t. I guess I just bring home too much food for them.”

Fun fact: Sekine told me that he met OSU president Burns Hargis and that Hargis said he met his wife Ann while working as a Pi Beta Phi houseboy.

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