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CEO DATELINE – NASPA apologizes for Suze Orman speech

April 7, 2021

By William Ehart

An association representing student affairs professionals recently apologized for a speech by Suze Orman at its 2021 annual conference in March.

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NASPA—Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education issued a statement late last month calling the speech by the financial advisor, author and podcast host “insulting and insensitive.” Inside Higher Education reported that Orman’s remarks drew immediate criticism from attendees at the virtual conference as out of touch and tone deaf.

Orman, host of The Suze Orman Show on CNBC from 2002-15, was keynote speaker for the virtual conference. Her advice to NASPA members focused on personal obstacles to wealth and improving their own financial literacy. But she was faulted for failing to address systemic barriers to wealth, including class, race and gender.

“We cannot discuss financial literacy without first acknowledging the inequitable and unjust systems that have prevented Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Queer, Trans, first-gen, low-income, and many other historically minoritized and marginalized communities from attaining education and generational wealth,” NASPA said in its statement. “Suze’s comments tied self-worth to financial progress, ignored the difficulties that many individuals experience when navigating existing systemic structures and tools, and used offensive language to describe the area of Chicago in which she grew up. While we intended the session to be helpful to each of you in your own personal financial journey, we missed the mark.”

Orman, who grew up in Chicago’s South Side, reportedly referred to it as “the hood” and “the ghetto.”

Inside Higher Ed reported that many attendees were “entry-level student-affairs professionals who are historically underpaid and heavily indebted” with student loans.