BET’s new drama, The Quad, has plenty of drama, but not nearly enough realism, according to Hampton University President William R. Harvey.
In a letter written to BET President Debra Lee, Harvey outlined what he felt were the problems with the show, saying that it did not accurately portray HBCU culture and that it misrepresented HBCU leadership:
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 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.
The letter is three pages long, dated Feb. 3, and has been made available to several HBCU presidents nationwide. Harvey also expressed his concerns at the timing of the show’s debut as well as the continued portrayal of HBCUs in a negative light.
“We cannot afford this kind of storytelling,” Harvey wrote. “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.”