EVANSTON—The Medill Innocence Project, one of Northwestern’s hallmark programs, is known for freeing innocent citizens from death row, but that wasn’t enough for Professor David Protess. In order to give students the breadth of experience promised in the curriculum, Protess has begun mandating that students lose their innocence in order to fully understand it.
“Students can undertake this assignment a variety of ways, including reverse cowgirl,” said Protess, winner of the Puffin Institute Prize for Creative Citizenship and once voted one of the top thirty investigative reporters since World War One.”
“Of course, fact checking is important,” he added. “Anyone who receives an STI gets a Medill F. I treat it like a spelling error.”
There are other ways to complete the assignment besides riding the galloping horse. Students can get hooked on crystal meth, shoot a puppy, or read a tabloid. The more creative students are also allowed to submit their own ideas, so long as they will cause deep, long-lasting mental trauma.
“The Innocence Project is a life-changing class,” according to Medill Junior Lisa Marcus. “I have so much confidence going into my stats final now that I’ve killed a man with my bare hands.”
Protess says that the aim of the program is to arm his students with experiences they will never forget.
“It’s a tough market out there,” said the envelope-pushing Protess. “I graduated from the school of hard knocks, and I’m a strong believer in life experience. Sex addicts, alcoholics, and felons are known to be better writers; in this way, my students have a real leg up on the competition.”