Prankster Who Got Bloggers to Report Ludicrous N.Y.U. Rumor Speaks

"The Cooper Union"Kevin Farley A fake letter reported that Cooper Union had leased its new building to N.Y.U.

The student behind the hoax that duped Gothamist and EV Grieve into writing that Cooper Union had leased its gleaming new building to N.Y.U. told The Local that he pulled the prank out of frustration that the university had not yet pledged to remain a tuition-free institution.

The fake letter from Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha described 41 Cooper Square as “a reminder of past ill-planning and fiduciary neglect,” and said that the top administrator would leave his home on Stuyvesant Street for academic housing on Third Avenue as a cost-cutting measure.

Alan Lundgard, the 23-year-old student council president of the school of art who wrote the letter and designed the site where it appeared, told The Local, “The community feels they’ve been excluded from the decision-making processes at a time when it’s so crucial to have input from the community.”

The junior, who is interested in web design, explained that the “deal” with N.Y.U. would seem plausible because of N.Y.U.’s own high-profile expansion. “Obviously N.Y.U. has been in the press recently. It’s important to oppose Cooper Union following that model of higher education: that it must constantly expand to sustain itself,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Cooper Union directed The Local to a statement acknowledging the hoax, but did not respond to further questions about its contents.

Late last year Cooper Union’s economic woes received much attention after the owners of the St. Mark’s Bookshop successfully lobbied the university to give them a rent reduction. Around the same time, Mr. Bharucha acknowledged the possibility of charging tuition for the first time in 110 years, prompting protests by students, faculty and alumni.

Mr. Lundgard, who was in the press in 2010 when his girlfriend, a fellow Cooper Union student, was severely injured while riding her bicycle, has met numerous times with Mr. Bharucha regarding how to generate money for the financially struggling school, but has left unsatisfied.

“It’s felt pretty futile,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s an executive decision. When you’re talking about something as drastic as changing the mission of school, it’s not something that should be executed unilaterally.”

Next Thursday a “community summit” in the Great Hall of Cooper Union will tackle the future of the university.