Some students at Trump University were pressured into giving the rave reviews the Republican presidential candidate is now using to fend off a class-action lawsuit against the defunct school.
“It’s absolutely a con,” former Trump University student Robert Guillo told The New York Times. “The role of the evaluations were a defense against any legal actions.”
Interviews with Guillo and other former students and teachers, and hundreds of pages of legal documents show students were directly or indirectly pressured to give good reviews of the program, the Times reports. The lawsuit alleges consumers were scammed into spending thousands of dollars on the classes with deceptive promises of wealth.
Teachers sometimes instructed students outright to give favorable evaluations, and remained with the students as they filled them out, declining to offer explicit anonymity to the reviews. Some teachers allegedly asked for the evaluations in return for graduation certificates.
One of the mentors said the university made it clear professor’s jobs depended on good evaluations, and acknowledged the process made it awkward for students to voice disapproval. He recalled regularly asking students to fill out the evaluation form in front of him at a coffee shop or in a restaurant, reported TheNYT. At that point he said students were likely thinking: “I want this guy to be my friend, I need his help.”
Another former student who spent $35,000 on classes at Trump University said his teacher demanded he give top marks in the evaluation. “I won’t leave until you give me all 5s,” he recalled the teacher telling him. “When it was time to fill the evaluation out, he put it in front of me — right between the two of us on the table — and reiterated that he expected all 5s while he watched me.”
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