(Gigionthat) 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.
Today, the complaints of many were outlined in a single letter written to BET President Debra Lee penned by Hampton University President William R. Harvey, who slammed the series for its misrepresentation of HBCU leadership, student culture and the challenges faced by the institutions.
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,” Dr. Harvey wrote. “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.”
It’s hard to argue with Dr. Harvey’s view of ‘The Quad,’ which has attracted a growing audience by being well-stocked on drama, but low on its promise to showcase ‘real HBCU culture’ through Georgia A&M University’s mantra of ‘Pride, Tradition and Excellence.’ It is particularly telling that Dr. Harvey, no stranger to strong takes on national HBCU issues, is particularly vexed by the presentation of female leadership at the fictional GAMU.
In 39 years as Hampton president, Dr. Harvey has earned a reputation for his pipeline of HBCU presidents, several of which have been women. Of the 10 seats on Dr. Harvey’s executive cabinet, eight positions are held by black women.
The three-page letter, dated on Feb. 3 and made available to a select number of HBCU presidents around the country, outlines Dr. Harvey’s concerns with the timing of its debut, and a seeming conspiracy to depict HBCUs in a negative light.
If BET, Viacom or whatever corporate individual responsible for ‘The Quad’ doesn’t do these things, or believes that buzz on Twitter is enough to weather a storm of HBCU presidents being displeased by their culture and livelihoods being misrepresented by a network which pledged to avoid the cultural treason of its past, then what comes next is the real HBCU drama. Presidents and alumni will call for boycotts. And unlike the ‘Sorority Sisters’ fiasco on VH1, BET has no ratchet content to replace what black elite set out to reject.
BET promised us an inside look into the world of HBCUs. And unfortunately, they earned just that.
Take a look a the letter in full:
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