Hunter College professor Stuart Ewen is crying foul about an "anti-counterfeiting campaign" sponsored on his campus by the Coach Corporation, a manufacturer of handbags, shoes and other women's accessories. To "educate" students about the dangers of knockoff imitatators, Coach paid the university to host a course in "stealth marketing" that involved plastering the campus with fake flyers about the problems of a fictional student named "Heidi Cee," who claimed that she had been conned by a counterfeit Coach handbag. "A corporation-funded university class with a curriculum created by corporate lobbyists is questionable enough," writes Ben Kessler. "According to Ewen, it appears that the class was the result of a direct request made by the president of the university to the department head. No tenured teachers were told about the department's new curricular direction; an untenured (therefore more pliable) faculty member with no marketing background was selected to teach the class. The anointed instructor voiced objections ... but ended up teaching the course anyway, with continuous supervision from a Coach lawyer. At no time, the Coach overseer stipulated, was the company's involvement to be mentioned in any of the completed class projects." The class assignments focused on creating an elaborate fabric of lies using "authentic-seeming fliers, social networking websites, and a blog" supposedly written by "Heidi Cee," in which the fictional student begged real students to help her find her missing Coach handbag and talked about the problem of fake products. When Ewen questioned the Ohio-based public relations firm that created the course about Heidi Cee's fabrications, they replied, "That's what kids do these days: create fake people on the internet."
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