Letter to the Editor: Sex discrimination in Buggy

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Carnival, and Buggy in particular, is a unique tradition here at Carnegie Mellon. This year, in addition to visiting the booths on midway, attending the GRiZ concert, and enjoying time with alumni and friends, I had the privilege of pushing for SPIRIT’s Women’s A team. Buggy has been a huge highlight of my college experience. Between driving, pushing, and maintaining the buggy, the sport requires the perfect balance of skill, engineering, and athleticism. Inevitably, I always get a rush of excitement when a friend or family member asks me to explain Buggy to them.

Through these discussions, however, I’ve come to realize that though Buggy is not a “real sport,” it is no exception to the sexism that exists within traditional collegiate sports. A clear example of this sexism can be seen in the comparison between the national buzz that March Madness receives every year and the half-filled stands at women’s basketball games. Women’s athletic teams are almost always seen as inferior and less entertaining than their male counterparts, and Buggy is no exception.

I believe the dismissal of women pushers stems from two main factors: timing and tone. Every year, the women’s buggy teams compete early in the morning (8 a.m. to 10 a.m. during the preliminaries), while the men’s teams compete later (10 a.m. to noon). Historically, the men’s heats have had better attendance. While the women’s teams may have a few dedicated fans and their teammates on the sidelines cheering them on, the sidelines are gradually filled as the day progresses and the men’s heats approach. This isn’t because the men’s races are particularly more interesting than the women’s, but simply because they are at a more convenient time.

Furthermore, there is a dramatic shift in the tone of the commentary during the men’s heats, with the men’s races being described as more exciting. An example of this can be seen in commentary given during preliminary rolls this year. At the beginning of the men’s segment, after the alumni grudge race, one commentator said “We’re about to get into the real stuff here, women’s prelims were very clean [...] what do you guys expect to see out of the men’s races here?” His colleague responded, “Oh wow, a lot.” Now, it could be that by “real stuff” the commentator was referring to races with students rather than alumni, but I doubt this. As a woman pusher, I interpreted this exchange and the shift in tone to mean that the commentators thought the men’s heats were more exciting and more important.

Both men and women pushers put in the same amount of time and effort. We all show up to rolls early in the morning on the weekends. We all take time from doing our homework to attend midnight rolls. Most importantly, we all want to make our team proud. So I simply request equal glory for equal work.

To achieve this, I propose two solutions to the overlooked, sexist practices of Buggy. First, I propose that Sweepstakes alternate which gender pushes early in the morning. One year the women should push starting at 8 a.m. and the next year the men can take the early slot. Secondly, I propose that there is one female buggy commentator. There are 23 women’s push teams and 30 men’s teams, not to mention female drivers and mechanics. Having a female commentator will help ensure that our value and hard work is fully appreciated and remarked on. There should be equal representation in the sport that we all love so much. In conclusion, I want to express my love and appreciation my teammates and SPIRIT’s alumni who have continued to encourage and support all pushers, whether male or female.

Iris Stegman is a junior social and decision sciences major.