Students call on school to fire vice chancellor because he served at Gitmo

Students at UNC Charlotte are calling for the university to fire a top administrator because of his affiliation with Guantanamo Bay.

Associate Vice Chancellor John Bogdan served as a commander at Guantanamo Bay. Now a coalition at the school wants him removed because they “do not feel safe."

Students at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte are outraged that their vice chancellor was a commander at Guantanamo Bay. Some want him fired.

Retired Army Colonel John Bogdan was hired as the university’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Safety and Security less than a year ago. Students are now focusing on his former position as a commander at Guantanamo Bay, a resume item that has sparked controversy across the campus.

The reaction to Bogdan's past has been mixed, with some students at UNC-Charlotte starting the hashtag #FireJohnBogdan in response to the discussion surrounding Bogdan’s involvement with Guantanamo Bay operations. 

Still, other students are defending Bogdan and thanking him for his service.

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A group calling itself the “Coalition to Remove John Bogden” issued a statement on Tuesday, demanding that the university relieve Bodgen of his duties and implement new policies that would involve students and community members in the hiring process of all high-level administrators. The complaint notes that its authors “do not feel safe” in light of Bogden’s presence on campus. 


But not all students agree with the initiative. 

“He was well respected by all his command brothers in the military, he was well respected in Guantanamo. He has been responsible for operational security and antiterrorism in 11 different army bases. He also led the crisis team in Fort Bragg so he has knowledge and skills that we need on this campus,” UNC-Charlotte student Camden Winstead told Campus Reform

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“He’s suited to handle every emergency situation and as we've seen on April 30th, 2019 his leadership skills and knowledge of emergency situations were critical and his team's response time to that event was crucial. He proved to us that day that he was the man for the job. I honestly feel much safer knowing he’s working for us,” Winstead added.

“What are they accusing him of? He seems to be knowledgeable about protecting large areas from terrorists, and that’s always a plus if you ask me!” UNC-Charlotte student Marybeth Keller echoed.

Other students are less optimistic about Bogdan's position.

“Oh so you like John Bogdan? Name 5 of his human rights violations. #FireJohnBogdan… Trick question, btw. He displays them proudly on his LinkedIn,” a  tweet by student organization the Young Democratic Socialists of America at UNCC reads.

“I have many awards and decorations, among those that are most meaningful to me, are two Bronze Stars, Legion of Merit, and the Combat Action Badge. However, the greatest honor the Army gives you is the opportunity to lead, to be a commander, entrusted with our most precious National treasure - America's sons and daughters -- and the opportunity to defend your fellow U.S. citizens,” Bogdan told Campus Reform. “We are the only army in the world that swears to defend an idea -- not a leader. Our oath is to support and defend the constitution of the United States,” he added.

“While I haven't been a member of Niner Nation very long, I have quickly developed a love and appreciation for this community. It is my honor to serve it in this way,” he said when asked about how he feels about his new role as Vice Chancellor for Safety and Security.

University officials defended their choice, telling local WCNC that “Prior to his employment, Bogdan went through a multi-step review process, including extensive reference and background checks, and underwent an assessment of behavioral competencies... References spoke of his character and commitment to service, which have been evident in his time at the University. As a military officer, Bogdan demonstrated significant leadership skills in safety readiness and emergency management, which are highly relevant to his responsibilities on campus and were critical in our response to the events of April 30 as well as the University's ongoing recovery efforts." 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @EmmaSchambach