Evaluating the Merits of Carolina Cup

Katy Lawlor – I attended Carolina Cup my freshman year. Unfortunately, the buses did not arrive, so I drove and remained sober for the entire time that I was there, which was approximately five hours. So, it’s understandable that I did not enjoy myself. I decided not to attend Carolina Cup this year, not because I didn’t have fun last year, but for the following reasons:

In my experience, most social events at Davidson aren’t fun unless you’re drinking! Carolina Cup is no different, besides the fact that many more drunk students surround you than at a typical Davidson party. For people that aren’t big drinkers or for people that don’t drink at all, this event is literally pointless. You stand out in the sun and watch drunk people stumble around, vomit, and get arrested. Whereas at Davidson, you can leave the party at any point and head back to your dorm, you don’t have this option at Carolina Cup. This isn’t to say that the drinking aspect is bad. It’s just simply a crucial part of the Cup experience, and if you’re not partaking, chances are…you’re not having fun either.

Secondly, Carolina Cup is sexist. As a Gender & Sexuality Studies major, Carolina Cup is basically the bane of my existence. Fraternities literally “take” campus women to the event via buses (unless you experience an unfortunate situation like mine and volunteer yourself as the sober warrior to drive the two hours). Part of the Carolina Cup experience includes campus men “advertising” their fraternity to campus women prior to the event, so as to get as many girls to come with them as possible. I have heard men on this campus say, “Well if eating houses want to go themselves, why don’t they just go?” As easy as breaking tradition theoretically sounds, believe it or not…it’s not always so easy in practice!

Not to mention…the fashion expectations. The typical attire for women includes a nice dress (think Lilly Pulitzer nice) and a widebrimmed hat. Now, not every woman spends $120+ on her outfit for this day; however, as a freshman, I definitely felt pressure to look like I was even remotely interested in traditional horserace-watching fashion.

So, let’s not forget that Carolina Cup is classist. Who goes to Carolina Cup? Those who can afford it. Who wears traditional Carolina Cup/ “frat” attire? Those who can afford it. Who do we mostly see at Carolina Cup? White, privileged, heterosexual fraternity men (no apologies for that major call out).

I have close friends who attend this event annually and absolutely love it. Power to them! It wasn’t for me, and I felt like it would be incredibly hypocritical for me to attend this event again, considering my prominent political voice on this campus. I felt the need to say what I said in this piece not because I am upset with the folks who attend Cup, but rather because I don’t hear enough discourse surrounding the problematic aspects of Cup.

Katy Lawlor ’19 is a Gender & Sexuality Studies major from Carmel, Indiana. Contact her at kalawlor@davidson.edu


Rob Maxfield – While some people may view Carolina Cup as a waste of $70 to ride on a bus for a total of 5 hours and drink (if you are of age, of course) in a field next to some horse races, they are viewing the event from the wrong perspective. Davidson College’s repetitive party scene can become dull after a while. Loud music and drunk college kids in a Patterson Court house is still the same thing, regardless of whether or not everyone is wearing togas or Christmas sweaters. While I personally enjoy such festivities, variety in social scenes is vital when trying to incorporate people who may find these shindigs a bit redundant. Carolina Cup is one of the events that does exactly that.

In addition to the physical change, Davidson students get to hang out with people other than each other. While I love all 1,920 of you, one of my favorite parts of Cup is wandering around through different schools’ soirées and meeting people from other colleges with unique experiences. The influence of alcohol (not on my part, of course, as I am not 21) helps foster bonds between strangers, and listening to other college students in different situations makes me reflect on my life at Davidson. Hearing about how big their school is makes me appreciate the meaningful connections I have with most people on campus and reminds me of why I chose Davidson in the first place.

Oh yeah, and I think some people actually watch the horses too. So if you are into that, then that’s another plus. College students are not the only ones who enjoy Carolina Cup. Families from all around the South make the trip to Camden, SC to watch the horse races. The annual event is more than just a big college party. For many people, racing events are important traditions and attending them is a key part of southern culture.

Rob Maxfield ’19 is an Economics major from Chicago, Illinois. Contact him at romaxfield@ davidson.edu