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Roger Naggeles-Provocateur

Cover of the Journal of the Experimental College, February 1973

Cover of the Journal of the Experimental College, 1973

Roger Naggeles was introduced to MSC when the first of several letters and editorial responses was printed in the Journal of the Experimental College, starting in November 1973. Naggeles, a self-styled non-conformist and independent thinker, railed against what he called the failure of the EC to honor its promises to offer a program centered upon student choice.

Naggeles claimed that there had been a breakdown in the spirit of the EC, the guiding vision of how the school was to operate, brought about in response to the realities of the college environment. Faculty were awarding grades instead of using the pass-fail system, and were taking the lead in deciding what was best for student goals instead of allowing the students to handle their own reins. Classes were being developed without enough student input. The freedom of students to truly blaze their own path was being retarded by a system of oversight which was not as liberating, in Naggeles' opinion, as the supposed original vision of the EC.

Beaver Yearbook, Experimental College, George Slanger photo, 1973.

Dr. George Slanger, 1973

First-year English faculty member and new editor of the EC journal George Slanger responded to Roger Naggeles’ comments, generally agreeing with the assessment, but adding a few qualifications. This agreement between an instructor/editor/institutional insider, on the one hand, and student/radical, on the other hand, was not surprising if one looked closely at their names. Following in the footsteps of countless commentators, authors, and editors through the ages, Slanger was using a pseudonym-–in this case an anagram of his name--which allowed him to both ask and answer his own question.

Slanger used a similar process in another journal article when he "invented" an interview with an old friend who asked questions about the EC. The most telling question and answer about the nature of the EC could be found in the interview where Slanger’s friend asked him, "What is the Experimental College?" Slanger responded in the interview that his friend was asking the wrong question. It should not be, "What is the Experimental College?" but instead, "What the Experimental College was not."