After just a few months at The Daily Illini, Roger was allocated his own regular column, “Ars Gratia.” Not only was his debut effort a movie review (The Parent Trap), but it also displayed the hallmarks of his later critical style. Note especially his comments about the film’s target audience and his opinion that Walt Disney undervalued the lead actress.
By the beginning of the fall semester, Roger was ready to take on topics that remain controversial today. In this case, he urged the NCAA to reform the practice by which universities offered “free rides” to top athletes
As final exams approached, Roger turned his aim at the failure of large universities, such as Illinois, to cope when classes were too large and automation was used to separate the wheat from the chaff.
At the outset of the 1962/63 academic year, Roger called attention to the annual congress of the National Student Association.
In the months just before the 1964 election between iconic conservative Barry Goldwater and leading liberal Lyndon Johnson, Roger’s column focused on the related problems of whether society as a whole or even the university could ever be perfected, ever be finished. Despite many reasons for pessimism, he ends positively, suggesting that it is best that the university should remain too large and too free to ever be defined.
Starting in mid-November 1964, Roger wrote a series of columns and editorials criticizing the university administration for having left students out of the planning for the new Intramural and Physical Education (IMPE) building (now “the ARC”). He was especially upset because students would be assessed a fee for its construction. By December, he focused on what he saw as the folly of the university trying to regiment exercise and recreation, which he felt would prevent self-discovery.
There is probably little better evidence of how influential Roger was during his Daily Illini years than this anonymous, double-columned effort by an administrator in the President’s office to provide a point-by point-retort to Roger’s long letter to the editor, published on November 17, 2017.