Feb 18, 2005

College Hill has upset some Langston alumni and faculty who feel the show is a negative representation.

College Hill, a reality show on Black Entertainment Television featuring students from Langston University, is bringing out many negative reactions from university faculty members and alumni.

The show, which is in its second season, picks eight co-ed college students to live together for thirteen weeks. Similar to MTV’s reality show The Real World, in the show College Hill, camera crews follow the lives and actions of these students in the house and around campus.

More than 1,000 Langston students applied for the show and eight were chosen to appear on it. The producers of the show bought a two-story, fully-furnished ranch house in Logan county for the students to live in during filming. The series premiered on Jan. 27.

During the filming, the camera crew followed the students’ daily life from going to class to drinking, partying and going out to a dance club. BET’s Web site includes cast biographies and recaps of previous shows.

The recaps include occurrences such as “At the club, eyes popped and mouths opened when the ladies of College Hill showed how they could break it down on the dance floor” and “Israel and Brittani conflicted over who licked what body part in their past relationship.”

Many faculty members, alumni and students have expressed opinions of disapproval of the show and believe it is a negative representation of the university.

“I usually don’t watch reality television shows because I think they are stupid,” said James Showalter, assistant professor and coordinator of history at Langston.

“I did watch a little of one College Hill episode. When I tuned in, what I saw was one student running around in only a towel, drunk and belligerent. He then dropped the towel and a girl in the house started yelling at him, with so many bleeps that you couldn’t understand what she was saying.”

Some faculty members also believe the show should not have been allowed to be filmed at Langston and the administration is at fault for allowing it.

“Langston has a small decision-making council,” Showalter said. “The show being allowed at the university is a product of a closed decision making process.”

According to Showalter, the university’s vice president of student affairs, Elbert Jones saw the show as publicity for the university and a recruitment tool.

“We did receive around 20 new applications after the show aired,” Showalter said. “The question is whether these are the kind of students we want to be recruiting.”

The show also angered Langston alumna Theodore Haynes, a federal Judge from Florida and head of the east coast branch of the Langston University Alumni Association. Haynes was so offended by the show that he wrote a letter to Langston University President Ernest Holloway requesting an apology from the school’s vice president of student affairs.

Haynes stated in the letter that if he did not receive an apology within ten days he would take action such as sending a tape of this program to the Board of Regents, send articles, press releases and letters to all the black media outlets across the country to protest the show and lastly, file a lawsuit against the university, board of regents and BET to request “monetary damages for the harm that has been caused to the reputation of Langston University.”

“I did receive an apology from the university president saying that he was sorry he had offended the alumni of his university,” Haynes said. “I am still continuing efforts against the BET network, however. I, along with others, have been sending letters to organizations such as churches and universities asking them to boycott BET. Alumni take great pride in their alma mater and we don’t want to see anything, like this show, that hurts the pride of their university.”

According to Haynes, a university is supposed to become a guardian for students in place of their parents, and thinks that by allowing this show to be filmed, the university “failed miserably” at its job.

Some students at Langston have expressed the same reactions as faculty and alumni in response to the show.

“I think it shines a negative light on Langston as far as the amount of cursing in it and stuff,” said Langston senior Brandon Banks. “It doesn’t represent the school very well. I have heard mixed reactions from students about the show. Some think it gives Langston good publicity since it is the only historically black university in Oklahoma. Others think it could cause people to shy away from the school.”

The president and vice president of student affairs of the university were not available for comment.

However, in a letter dated Feb. 7, Langston’s president, Holloway expressed his general opinions about the show. In the letter he remarked, “You must know that the opportunity for BET to use our students who volunteered to participate in College Hill had the full support of the administration of Langston University.” He also said he takes full responsibility for whatever embarrassment some of the alumni may have experienced, but he feels that “the value of the positive benefits that the University experienced far outweighed the negative that some may have seen in the episode.”


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