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By DEBORAH ZIFF | WSJ
Amid a blur of images of parties, dorm rooms, kissing and close-ups, University of Wisconsin-Madison student Kevin Tracy makes a confession: ?I drank too much. I made a mistake, I?m sorry.?
This is the trailer for the new MTV reality series, ?College Life,? premiering Monday night. The show follows the lives of four freshman at UW-Madison, including Tracy, who documented their first year of college with handheld cameras.
But perhaps the fifth star of the show is the campus itself, which is the backdrop to much of the drama that will play out over the course of eight episodes.
And although promotional materials for the series say it will cover subjects ranging ?from hookups to breakups to academic pressure and homesickness,? UW-Madison administrators are wary of how the show will portray the university, concerned it will glamorize a culture of drinking and partying.
Dean of Students Lori Berquam said university officials made a decision to distance themselves from the show after seeing the trailer. A disclaimer before the program states it ?is not endorsed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.?
?I hope their reality is more than just alcohol,? Berquam said. ?I am very concerned. It feels to me it doesn?t represent the total picture that is the UW-Madison experience.?
Berquam admitted she had not seen an episode and is basing her views on the commercials.
?Maybe they?re going to produce it really well,? she said.
The idea behind ?College Life? is that MTV handed the cameras to the students, who logged their own footage in dorm rooms, at parties, and around campus. Berquam said they were not allowed to film university logos, in classrooms or office buildings.
Editors then waded through the hundreds of hours of tape taken since September. MTV is pitching the show as ground-breaking, a new level of reality TV.
UW-Madison was chosen because the show?s creator, 25-year old David Wexler, attended the university.
Tracy, a freshman from St. Paul, Minn., said there may be some regrettable moments, but it will also show the honest struggle from high school to college.
?It?s freshman year of college,? he said. ?You aren?t going to be perfect all the time. You?re going to make mistakes. It?s half learning in class, half from experience.?
Nineteen-year-old Andrea Endries from Mukwonago might offer another perspective of campus life. She describes herself as a ?strong Christian? who doesn?t drink, with a pledge to remain a virgin until marriage. She decided to try out for the show on a whim, escaping chemistry lab just in time to catch the last 15 minutes of the day?s interviews on campus.
Endries said, given her stance on drinking and sex, people may be surprised to see she still likes to have fun, go to parties, and dance on tables.
?I?m really giving my life over to what they take out of it,? she said. ?They could see something totally different out of my story. Overall, I?m excited, being it is all my footage. I?m kind of interested to have someone put it in a story line. I don?t think we realize we all have our own little soap operas.?
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