Hunter College Allows Marketing Group To Impose Phony Course On Faculty And Students

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From this article at Inside Higher Ed:

… At Hunter College of the City University of New York, some professors are asking those questions : and a Faculty Senate committee is considering a formal complaint about violations of academic freedom : over a course sponsored last year by the International Anticounterfeiting Coalition (known as the IACC), an organization of companies that are concerned about low-cost knockoffs of their products. The companies involved include some of the biggest names in fashion and consumer goods : Abercrombie & Fitch, Chanel, Coach, Harley-Davidson, Levi Strauss, Reebok and so forth.

According to the complaints filed with the Faculty Senate, Hunter agreed to let the IACC sponsor a course for which students would create a campaign against counterfeiting in which they would create a fake Web site to tell the story of a fictional student experiencing trauma because of fake consumer goods. One goal of the effort was to mislead students not in the course into thinking that they were reading about someone real. So-called”guerrilla marketing”: in which consumers are unaware that they are being marketed : is the subject of some controversy in the marketing and public relations world. But even among advocates for the tactic, there are some who are disturbed about what happened at Hunter.

Some question why a for-credit college class at a public university should be doing, in effect, discount marketing work for an industry group. Some wonder about a college using some students to fool other students. Others are concerned about the circumstances of the course itself. It was created without any curricular review. 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.

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. …

Read the rest here. Via Concurring Opinions, where Devan Desai trenchantly asks: “Why have students perform free labor for the fashion industry (and really pay for the privilege?)? What about the underlying lies?”

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