By Ruth Conniff
From day one, some of the students who paid a bundle to enroll in "Trump University" should've known they were being taken. They had been promised that The Donald himself would be at their seminars, and that they would have the exquisite privilege of getting their pictures taken with the Magnificent, Orange-Haired Ego of Narcissistic Hucksterism. Instead, they got to pose with a cardboard cutout of him.
That was a flashing-neon clue that Trump U is nothing but a cardboard university. In fact, a few years ago, Trump's private, for-profit institution was told by education officials in New York and Maryland that it is an "illegal educational institution," ineligible to use the term "university" in its name. So, since 2010, it has borne the rather pedantic, anti-academic moniker of Trump Entrepreneur Initiative.
By whatever name, this Trumped up outfit is such an educational fraud that it has produced a cross-country string of consumer complaints, reprimands from state regulators, a California lawsuit by ripped-off students, a charge by New York's attorney general that the venture bilks customers with sham courses that amount to bait-and-switch fraud -- and a D-minus grade from the Better Business Bureau. D-minus! What kind of "university" is that? One that intentionally preys on vulnerable people in order to pocket profits, especially when so many people are desperate to get back in the workforce. "I thought that Trump University was a real institution," said one seeker.
Come on -- The Donald himself isn't real. One of his ads for TU promised that students could, "Just copy exactly what I've done and get rich." Sure -- just inherit a real estate fortune, squander it, then get big banks to forgive the debt you owe for failed projects and loan more to you. Then get your own TV show. Ridiculously easy!
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Photo: Flickr user Miles Gehm, creative commons licensed.