A leader in the historically black college community has blasted BET’s The Quad for distorting HBCU culture and leadership on TV, calling the new drama “fake news” and “a bogus representation of very important and historic institutions.”
Hampton University President William R. Harvey penned a three-page letter to BET President Debra Lee in early February.
“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 reads:
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.
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.
Additionally, the letter has been made available to several HBCU across the country and The Root noted that several leaders from HBCUs “have reportedly written to Harvey and commended him for writing the letter in response to the negative images presented in The Quad.”