Last semester, UF students saw unprecedented political chaos in Student Government politics. With three new parties vying for attention, we founded the Union Party on a dream: to reform student government—more totally and permanently than any of our opponents could yet imagine— into an unflinching force for the welfare of our student body.
In the Fall election, that dream was met with the utter electoral undoing of the anti-establishment movement as a whole. We fully understood the unfathomably winding road of mounting a new political campaign, but Student Government law imposes nigh-insurmountable barriers to entry for new parties — true new parties, not shallow rebrands.
Through our experiences, we identified three overarching problems in our community: our straining finances, our suffering communities and our crumbling democratic institutions. Three problems that, despite their increasing severity, Student Government’s leaders have seen fit to ignore. If anything, driven by their spite and lust for power, they’ve exacerbated these endemic problems.
We stumbled into the opportunity of a lifetime last week when the Change Party approached us with a profound idea: to merge our scattered parties. We were initially hesitant, even skeptical, all-too familiar with the intense vitriol involved in Student Government politics. We met with the Change Party’s leadership to discuss the possible future of the independent movement under our cooperative care. Openly discussing the political realities of our situation led us to the realization that we all saw the same injustices in Student Government, and we all wanted nothing more than to uproot those injustices.
Given our shared love for the University of Florida and desire for progress, we believe we can most effectively rebuild Student Government under a single banner, so we are embracing Change Party’s proposal to merge our two parties. This is not the end of the Union Party dream — it is the beginning of a new era for the indie movement.
It’s time for us wayward independents to find our home under one roof again, for the sake of our democracy. It’s time for change.
Ethan Lomio and Branden Reis are co-founders of Union Party and Senate Candidates for Change Party.