Teaching College Kids to Lie

Additional details have surfaced about the story we mentioned last month regarding a corporate-sponsored hoax at Hunter College. The college receives donations from the Coach Corporation, a manufacturer of handbags, shoes and other women's accessories. In particular, Coach funded a "guerrilla marketing" class that "educated" students about the dangers of knockoff products by creating a fictional student named "Heidi Cee" who claimed that she had been conned by a counterfeit Coach handbag. "The professor who taught it says that he was pressured to do so even though he has no expertise in advertising or public relations (he teaches computer graphics) and had ethical qualms about the course," reports Scott Jaschik. "Further, the professor -- and other professors who have investigated the circumstances of the course -- maintain that the professor was required to teach only one side of the issue, had to accept industry officials watching him teach, and had little clout to fight back since he didn't (and still doesn't) have tenure." According to Hunter professor Stuart Ewen, the lessons in deception were designed by Paul Werth Associates, an Ohio-based PR firm working for the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, a Coach-funded organization.