BET’s new drama series ‘The Quad’ has been a topic of intense discussion since it premiered a few weeks ago.
Many from HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) have been vocal about what they feel is a negative representation of their college culture and values.
Hampton University President William R. Harvey took his criticism of the show straight to BET President Debra Lee in the form of a three-page letter. In the letter, Harvey slams ‘The Quad’ for misrepresenting HBCU leadership and student culture.
Devoid of any reference to academics, The Quad is about a president who is promiscuous, trustees who are unwilling to deal with a rogue band director, and a band director who condones criminal activity on the part of his drum major. The Quad will lead many to believe that HBCUs exist because of their marching bands; that our presidents are unethical; that our boards are dysfunctional and have misplaced priorities; that our faculty, students and administrators are driven by sex, alcohol, marijuana, low self-esteem, parties and a preoccupation with music; that it is acceptable to disrespect women; that university policy can be set by a band director; and that there are no standards of conduct or penalties for bad behavior. This depiction seems more analogous to a disgruntled, adolescent and unrealistic point of view that some may have. It also feeds a false narrative about the irrelevance of HBCUs.
We cannot afford this kind of storytelling. 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.
None of us have actually seen the show, so we can’t quite comment on whether or not ‘The Quad’ is ‘damaging’ to HBCUs. However, we do question if a fictional TV show has a responsibility to be 100% accurate in its storytelling.
Take a look at the letter in full below and let us know your thoughts!
— Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) February 17, 2017