The Missouri State University Public Affairs Conference kicked off on Sept. 30 and lasted until Oct. 3. The conference’s theme was 21st Century Digital World and hosted a variety of speakers on several topics.

To start the conference, the MSU Opera Theatre performed a selection of regionally inspired songs. Headed by Music Professor Ann Marie Daeh, the songs covered the rapid growth of technology in the Ozarks alongside the growth of diversity.

The following night was marked by “America’s favorite country music DJ” Bobby Bones taking the stage at Juanita K. Hammons Hall for Performing Arts.

The number of attendees filled the lower two tiers of the hall, and included guests likeCongressman Billy Long.

Bones’ speech ran for an hour, in which he discussed growing up in Arkansas, his dreams as a kid and his struggles while on the air. His main message was to not give up, even in failure. He highlighted the title of his New York Times Bestseller, “Fail Until You Don't: Fight Grind Repeat,as words to live by.

“The way I did it is stupidly simple,” Bones said. “It’s three words I use: Fight, grind and repeat. Now just because it’s simple doesn’t actually mean it’s easy. But at least it’s not complicated — I think anyone can do this. If you’re going to succeed, according to how I have been able to live my life, you gotta really know what your fight is.”

Bones said he’s been arrested, fined and bullied during his life. But these experiences didn’t stop him and by continuing to “fight, grind and repeat” he was able to make it to where he is today.

Following Bones’ speech, MSU President Clif Smart sat down with Bones and had a Q & A session on stage. When questioned about his “Dancing with the Stars” experience, Bones invited first year graduate of Occupational Therapy student Hanna Slusher to the stage to demonstrate his dance moves.

The first keynote speaker of the second day was Jason Anderson’s panel on the Ethics of Data Science. Anderson outlined the value of data, and gave the example of how personalized ads use personal information. This in turn comes from companies buying and selling data about potential customers.

Anderson listed several reasons why companies do this, and compared online safety between the United States, the United Kingdom and China. He also explained that even though there are laws in place to provide protection for data, companies have users sign  contracts with them which gives consent to obtain this data.

He then finished by giving the audience a choice: they can either protect data — both their own and others — or they can actively seek it out for material gain.

“You can be the rooster, or you can be the fox,” Anderson said. “Are you there doing what you’re doing to try to maximize money or profit? Or are you there with some sort of protective stance guarding the Henhouse. Somebody has to play that role, right now.”

The conference wrapped up in Duane G. Meyer Library with a game night. Sponsored by the Residence Hall Association, conference goers played board games until midnight.


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