A five-year suspension of UNC’s chapter of the co-ed business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi came earlier this year after violations related to alcohol, hazing and disruption of an investigation by the chapter’s national body.
But a new business organization named Scale and Coin has been born at UNC in the months since, drawing resources from Duke University.
At its helm are some former AKPsi members, and students who were in the process of joining the UNC chapter at the time it was suspended.
A formal complaint to AKPsi National last November sparked an investigation by the organization into its UNC chapter.
“During this investigation, the chapter acted to mislead the investigation and to withhold information from fraternity officials,” AKPsi CEOSteve Hartman said in an email notice of the chapter’s suspension, which was reviewed by The Daily Tar Heel.
Along with the suspension, the UNC members were instructed to turn over all ritual materials and close out their financial accounts with the national organization.
Numerous UNC students formerly affiliated with the suspended chapter didn’t respond to requests for comment.
“We were very concerned about this chapter continuing, and potential threats to the health, safety, and wellness of our student members on campus, as well as the University community,” saidBrian Parker, AKPsi’s national chief operating officer.
Parker couldn’t confirm whether the complaint came from a chapter member or not.
He said UNC’s chapter was placed under a cease and desist order a week after the national organization received the complaint, which suspended all AKPsi-related activity until the national organization could determine a timeline to conduct an on-site investigation.
Parker said the fraternity members still met behind closed doors after all fraternity activity was suspended, and that some were not truthful to investigators.
“We always want to work with chapters in these situations, if they are willing to work with us, and we feel that we make a change of culture if needed,” he said. “In this case, we felt we could not, so that’s why the decision was made to suspend the charter of this chapter.”
Parker said AKPsi and UNC were in communication throughout the entire process. He said when AKPsi receives allegations, they always contact universities to understand what they’ve been told and make a plan moving forward. This includes help with parking and reserving rooms for the investigators.
The University and the Kenan-Flagler Business School, which oversaw UNC's AKPsi, said they had no contact with AKPsi during the investigation.
“The business school was only in contact with the national organization after it handed down the decision to suspend the chapter,” said Anna Millar, managing director of the business school’s undergraduate program.
Travis Day, former faculty advisor to UNC’s AKPsi chapter, said in an email that he also couldn’t provide details about the investigation.
“Before the investigation occurred, I was not aware of any activity that would warrant an investigation,” Day said. “I was never aware of any hazing activity, and I did not attend their activities.”
UNC said it couldn’t confirm the existence or nonexistence of any Honor System cases related to the AKPsi chapter.
Scale and Coin
The recently-established Scale and Coin chapter at UNC, which is considered the organization’s “Beta chapter,” is not officially recognized by the University.
The semester after AKPSi was suspended, Scale and Coin began its rush process at UNC. Rather than a business fraternity, Scale and Coin is a “premier business society” which originated at Duke in 2012.
Tammy Lambert, assistant director for student organizations, said in an email that there is not an organization under the name “Scale and Coin” currently registered on Heel Life, though new organizations have until April to apply for University recognition this academic year.
Lambert said only registered student organizations are eligible to apply for tables at FallFest, UNC's annual event intended to promote widespread student involvement on campus, though groups are allowed to attend the event and promote themselves with posters.
UNC Scale and Coin brought posters advertising itself to August’s FallFest. Jennifer Norland, a sophomore pledge for UNC Scale and Coin, said she heard about the organization at FallFest.
“It’s pretty much — everyone that is in Scale and Coin right now was in AKPsi in the past.” Norland said. “So, a good 35 or so active members.”
Norland, along with fellow Scale and Coin pledge Sumani Nunna, said the AKPsi charter was suspended the day after the new AKPsi pledges were officially initiated into the now-suspended fraternity, something that was mentioned to them during the pledge process for Scale and Coin.
Norland said AKPsi is often referenced at Scale and Coin.
“We’ll talk about it, and reference some different things that were important to AKPsi and different good parts of AKPsi that have transferred into Scale and Coin, and just kind of how they affect it, I guess,” Norland said.
Those good parts, she said, are business and networking skills, lifelong friendships and values.
A new chapter
Members of the Scale and Coin executive team at UNC did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the DTH.
"We realized there was essentially a vacuum left where people needed a business society that was independent," said Nitin Subramanian, vice president of membership and marketing at Duke's Scale and Coin chapter. "We had a good rapport where, a couple of our members are friends with members at UNC, so we thought we could make Scale and Coin a thing there."
Thomas Williford, vice president of social activities for Duke’s Scale and Coin chapter, said in a text message to the DTH that 61 percent of UNC’s Scale and Coin members “have no connection to AKPsi/were never full members of AKPsi,” adding that 75 percent of its 12-member executive board were not in the now-suspended fraternity chapter.
“The current UNC president and new member education team (of UNC's Scale and Coin) were not full AKPsi members, and they are operating a completely new training process separate from AKPSi,” Williford said in the message.
Williford said the organization came to UNC after speaking with one of his "really good friends from high school," who had just joined AKPsi when it was shut down. That, along with visiting UNC and seeing a passion for business among students, caused the effort to open Scale and Coin’s second chapter, he said.
Williford said the Scale and Coin organization would have tried to expand to UNC regardless of the AKPsi situation. Subramanian said the organization also hopes to expand to Northeastern and West Coast universities.
Williford said Duke’s Scale and Coin made clear to the organization’s UNC iteration that they have a no-hazing policy. He said their autonomy is something that separates them from a Greek organization.
“One thing that we did do at Scale and Coin, is we ran over some of UNC’s investigation, as well as looked at AKPsi’s,” he said. “We had a conversation with most of the new members, talking about, you know, ‘Look, these are things that have happened before. These things cannot happen again.’”
Parker, the AKPsi national COO, said he would be concerned if his organization were informed that several former members of the UNC chapter had started a new organization. He added that they would potentially "try to get that organization shuttered," depending on what their activities and mission were.
"Obviously, we would be concerned about any attempts to form an organization that would continue on the activity that they were doing," Parker said.
Nunna, one of the Scale and Coin pledges, said she had not heard anything about the AKPsi drinking policy being violated, but that Scale and Coin has a strict rule against forced drinking.
Nunna said she heard about Scale and Coin from several friends who were formerly in AKPsi. She said the hazing allegations were not the sensationalized version that is often thought of.
“What we have been told, and what, to my knowledge, has happened, is that the hazing allegations were made by the national chapter of AKPsi for not following the same pledge process that the national chapter mandates,” Nunna said.
Nunna referenced a scavenger hunt AKPsi did with the Fall 2018 pledge class that was not in its national pledging curriculum. She thinks any business organization will have a similar experience at the root.
“For me at least, what I’ve heard about AKPsi in the past and what I’m experiencing with Scale and Coin at the moment, it seems like they’ve stayed very true to those kind of core principles and making sure that we gain the skills to be successful in the future in the business world,” she said.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.