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Thursday, May 19, 2022

They might not be “Facebook official,” but the relationship between the Orange and Blue Party and the Progress Party has become a little bit less complicated.

The parties have announced they will unite into one party this semester.

Orange and Blue Party Sen. Jonathan Ossip, who represents the Murphree Common Area, said the two parties had been discussing the merge for about two months, but the decision was finalized during the winter break.

The parties are still discussing a possible party name and potential candidates for party leaders, Ossip said.

He said senators held their first meeting as a single party Tuesday.

It’s definitely going to positively impact our issues,” Ossip said.

Ossip said the two parties have similar views on issues such as reforming the code of ethics in the Student Senate and creating an online voting system for Student Government elections.

Pretty much on every vote, you would see the two of our parties align,” Ossip said.

Ossip said he hopes an online voting system would increase voter turnout and allow more students to participate in SG.

He compared UF's voter turnout to the voter turnout for SG elections at other universities in Florida.

When we have a lower voter turnout than a lot of other institutions, then clearly we’re doing something wrong,” Ossip said.

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Ossip said the differences between the two parties were never very big, and he did not realize just how alike they were until discussions about the merger began.

If you really combine what issues we emphasize, you see a sum that's greater than its parts,” Ossip said.

Former Progress Party Sen. Dave Schneider said the Orange and Blue Party focused on reforming SG, while the Progress Party emphasized the need to increase student participation in SG.

He said he thinks the combined party will be able to uphold both banners equally.

We’re going to be pushing for a similar objective,” Schneider said. “We want change through participation.”

He said the parties share similar views about the importance of boosting transparency in SG by posting senator voting records online and publishing the budget online for students to see.

Our objective is that students are getting the most out of Student Government,” Schneider said.

He said the merge also stems from the results of the past two elections, in which the Unite Party gained the majority of Senate seats.

Schneider said the results showed weaknesses in the campaigning strategies of both parties and emphasized the need for them to change their tactics.

It's basically a grade that we're getting—how well are we reaching students?” Schneider said.

Senate President Ashton Charles, who represents the Unite Party, said the Unite Party will also be focusing on protecting student interests in the upcoming election.

She said the Unite Party will focus on its own campaign rather than on the merge.

As far as the Unite Party is concerned, our goal is that we focus on our party, and we're making sure we're doing everything right as far as students are concerned,” Charles said.


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