A criminal justice professor at Coppin State College denied allegations yesterday that he rejected the thesis topic proposed by one of his graduate students, insisting he "would not censor academic freedom."
The allegations emerged amid a dispute last week over Coppin's criminal justice program and whether some master's degree candidates would be permitted to graduate today without meeting what some faculty insist are degree requirements.
Four graduate students who wrote research papers deemed unacceptable by department Chairperson Concetta Culliver are expected to receive their master's degrees, but others who failed comprehensive exams will not be allowed to graduate, according to Coppin officials.
The professor, Richard Monk, was responding to criticism in yesterday's editions of The Sun from Darnell Coates, who is one of several students contending that their failure to complete requirements was due to a lack of faculty guidance. Coates said Monk rejected his thesis topic on HIV-AIDS prevention programs in juvenile justice facilities and instead told him to "do a topic on male whores and the meat rack" -- a section of Baltimore's Mount Vernon neighborhood known for male prostitution.
Monk said he told Coates that his idea for a thesis topic was "not practical, that it wouldn't be doable in six months."
"I've never censored any students in my life, and I was supportive of his topic of choice. I didn't think he could complete it in time," Monk said. "Under no circumstances did I say, `Go write about the meat rack.' "
Coates stood by his comments yesterday.