Both student factions have been discussing a possible merger for over two years already, according to Naomi Amsing and Arthur Nijdam, chairpersons of Groep-één and the ESR respectively. The two factions often had similar ideas and made the same choices during the last few years, and the collaboration between both factions went very smoothly, Amsing and Nijdam say.
Amsing: “We noticed that it became increasingly difficult in the run-up to the annual elections to explain exactly what the differences are between Groep-één and the ESR. We have many similar views and we acted together ever more frequently within the University Council.” Nijdam says that both factions grew closer throughout the years. “At first, Groep-één focused primarily on students who were active at a study association in parallel to their studies, while the ESR focused more on the average student. That difference doesn’t really exist anymore,” Nijdam says.
The merger met with no opposition from either of the faction’s supporters, and the members of staff faction PUR consider it a logical step, the two chairpersons say. Amsing says that the members of the factions have been meeting jointly since April, and there is no fear that this joining of forces will lead to a loss of seats during the next election. The new faction has seven seats on the University Council at this time. “It’s possible we might lose one of those seats, but the remaining six seats would still leave us with a considerable majority. On the other hand, we might also gain seats as a result of this merger.”
The merger offers the ‘small’ ESR faction members the opportunity to tackle policy issues with more focus and efficiency. Nijdam: “Nowadays, each University Council meeting deals with an enormous variety of topics, combined with large stacks of policy documents. The ESR needed to choose among these topics, because it was impossible to address everything. The new faction allows us to devote our full attention to each topic. This way we can represent the interests of every TU/e student even better.”
Charlot Felderhof, chairwoman of DAS Eindhoven, thinks that both factions made a wise decision, “since there weren’t that many differences between Groep-één and the ESR. Things will be more transparent for voters at the next elections in December now that there are only two parties left, each with their own voice.”
Felderhof also believes this development shows that DAS Eindhoven’s entry on the council two years ago was necessary. “Our focal points are different than those of Groep-één and the ESR. This doesn’t mean that we sit ‘opposite’ seven seats though, we still sit and stand next to them, literally and figuratively speaking. Collaboration within the University Council is very important. We don’t disagree with the positions of Groep-één and the ESR, but our focus lies elsewhere. That’s why it makes no difference to us whether we sit across five seats plus two, or seven seats in total.”
Postscript September 7, 2020:
Naomie Amsing, vice-chair of student party Groep-één, explains what name the party will go by from now on:
“The merged party Groep-één|ESR decided on May 29, 2020 to continue as Groep-één from now on. This was always the intention since the beginning of the fusion, because Groep-één is a recognizable name with a large following, where ESR is more complicated (especially for internationals), was a smaller party, but is also factually incorrect (we are a university council and have no student council). In addition, we also have the association Groep-één, whose name is not easily changed at the Chamber of Commerce.
The longer merged name with a dash in between was mainly intended to clearly indicate the fusion. Now that this has been a year ago, it is time to go back to a recognizable, simple name.”
The first University Council meeting of the new academic year is scheduled for Monday 16 September at 16:00 hrs. on the ground floor of the defense ceremony hall in Atlas. Students and staff members are invited to raise a glass to the merger between Groep-één and the ESR during a festive celebration at café Hubble in Luna from 15:30 to 17:30 hrs. A new name for the faction is still under consideration, Amsing and Nijdam say. Suggestions are welcome.