For whatever reason, Hollywood has a fascination with HBCUs. We saw it in School Daze, A Different World and even Drumline in the early 2000s. And over the years BET has tried to put their spin on the segmented college community, first with their reality series College Hill and more recently with The Quad.
But many HBCU faculty and students are saying The Quad is not an accurate and is downright disrespectful. Earlier this month Hampton University president, William R. Harvey wrote a letter to BET president, Debra Lee noting his upset.
“I served on two HBCUs as in leadership positions prior to being named the president of Hampton University, a position to which I have held for the last 39 years,” he says. “On none of these campuses have I witnessed the actions portrayed in the first episode of The Quad… The show was a sad, derisive and denigrating story, an incredibly disparaging depiction of the HBCUs I know and love.”
As reported by HBCU Digest, several HBCU presidents wrote to Dr. Harvey after receiving the letter, commending him for a ‘courageous’ and “eloquent” response to the negative images represented in The Quad, which aired its third episode last night.
The show led by actress, Anika Noni Rose tells the story of an HBCU president who’s tries to balance her job with a wild daughter and band instructor who’s vying for campus control— by any messy means necessary.
It’s dramatic is clearly written for television, but some believe imitation can reflect badly on real life.
“We cannot afford this kind of storytelling,” Harvey follows. “It amounts to the type of ‘fake news’ that is prevalent today. You see, all that most people know about HBCUs is what they see on television. What I saw on BET February 1st was not accurate; rather, it was a bogus representation of very important and historic institutions.”
BET has yet to respond.