William R. Harvey, president of historically Black Virginia-based college Hampton University, scolded the new BET hit series “The Quad” for depicting academic life at HBCUs in an unfavorable light.
Harvey penned a 3-page letter to BET President Debra Lee claiming the show misrepresents the students, professors and academics at historically Black colleges and universities. The letter, written Feb. 3 and posted online by HBCU Digest Feb. 16, also attacked the series’ characters and storyline that “feeds a false narrative about the irrelevance of HBCUs.”
“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 letter read. “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.
“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.”
Headlined by Anika Noni Rose as Dr. Eva Fletcher and legendary stage and TV actress Jasmine Guy, the show revolves around the lives of students and educators at fictional Georgia A&M University. Critics have described the show as “clunky” and “heavy-handed” when dealing with tougher subjects such as race.
As of this report, showrunners have not responded to Harvey’s letter.