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Trump University got glowing reviews by pressuring students, the New York Times reports

Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

Donald Trump's defense against accusations of fraud at Trump University is all about the overwhelmingly positive surveys from former students. It's right there in the URL of the website he set up to defend it:

But that 98 percent approval — a reference to students' opinions at the end of the real estate seminar, as measured by surveys — came after instructors pressured students to give them good reviews, the New York Times reported Friday:

Trump University did not explicitly offer students anonymity on the forms, often asked them to complete the documents in the presence of instructors and, according to internal Trump University documents made public in litigation, asked students to submit the surveys in exchange for their graduation certificates.

One mentor told the Times he'd ask students to fill out the forms in front of him, when they were more likely to give him good reviews, in part because his future employment depended on it.

This isn't the only problem with the surveys. Many of them came from students who attended the free introductory seminar, and so hadn't lost any money. And some students who did pay and filled out positive evaluations later said they wanted their money back, including some who have made videos criticizing Trump for the conservative American Future Fund.

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