Anti-Machine flyers put up in School of Social Work


Courtesy of Zachary Boros

Madison McLean | @MadisonMcLean3, Contributing Writer

“The machine seeks oppression. Social Workers seek justice,” read the posters that were taped up on the walls of the student lounge in Little Hall last Wednesday.

Zachary Boros, a senior in the School of Social Work, posted these in response to some of the candidates running for social work senate. Barring write-in campaigns, the School of Social Work is one of only two colleges with contested SGA senate races. Theta Nu Epsilon, or “The Machine,” is an on-campus political organization that has traditionally dominated SGA elections. It has historically been attributed to white supremacy on campus, and members have been charged with using corrupt and sometimes violent tactics to garner votes.

Boros cited multiple bylaws from the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics. The most significant, he said, is responsibility 6.04 Social and Political Action:

“Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully,” the code reads. “Social workers should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote social justice.”

Boros said that as a student in the School of Social Work, he can and should be able to hold his fellow classmates accountable and would hope the candidates representing social work students would abide by the national code of ethics set forth for all social workers in the field.

“We’re called to advocate for other people,” Boros said. “We’re called to seek the most socially just thing to do. The field of social work was born out of activism. The origins of social work were combating social injustice. The meaning has changed over the years, but that’s still the core value.”

Boros confronted the two candidates who he said he felt were Machine-backed, Lauren Rouse and Julia Fenaroli, on Instagram with the same direct message.

“Hi (candidate name)!” he wrote. “I noticed that you’re running for social work senate. I, too, am in social work and am a senior. I just had a quick question for you as someone who will be casting a vote: what are your thoughts on the machine? Thanks in advance for your time!”

Boros received no response from either candidate. He said he commented on one of Rouse’s posts on Instagram, but his comment was deleted and then was blocked by the candidate. The Crimson White has obtained evidence to corroborate these claims.

“When you see things happening on campus like the Machine, to me that’s a red flag within itself as a social worker, and it should be for other social workers,” Boros said. “But for someone on the inside saying, ‘Hey, I’m running, and I want to represent this school,’ and at the same time are part of the Machine, that’s antithetical. How do you reconcile the two? How do you reconcile being a Machine candidate and upholding the social work code of ethics? That’s impossible.”

The Crimson White reached out to all three candidates running for the two social work senate seats: Lauren Rouse, Julia Fenaroli and Cat del Carmen. The candidates were asked to comment on the posters that were put up in their school.

“I don’t believe anything written on the posters is objectively wrong,” del Carmen said in a 900-word statement. “It just depends on what perspective you’re seeing it from. Before you come to that conclusion, it would be important to educate oneself on the history of said Machine here in Tuscaloosa and then read over the NASW code of ethics.”

Rouse and Fenaroli did not respond by the time of publication.

Boros also made posters stating, “If you support Machine values over social work values: Change your major.”

“I don’t know why the school of business allows unethical practices to happen,” he said. “I don’t know why the college of engineering allows unethical practices to happen. I don’t know why the school of social work is allowing unethical practices to happen. But if they’re not doing anything about it, I’ll do something about it.”

This story will be updated as it develops.