By Allie McCandless
Running for Senate last September was the first time I ran for elected office. I shared a misguided perception to that point, as the only exposure I’d had to student government were the popularity contests of high school. I wanted to directly help student groups and make a measurable impact. The more I learned about the University of Massachusetts Student Government Association, the more excited I became. Unlike high school, there was a way I could make a tangible impact—by joining the Ways and Means Committee.
While it was an easy decision for me, many women in the SGA urged me to reconsider. They claimed finance was too difficult, too male-dominated and I was “too nice of a girl” to handle it. It was unfathomable that the female leadership of the SGA—who support so-called “girl power”—would actively discourage women from financial leadership, a field where we are vastly underrepresented. Thankfully, Tim Conceison’s financial leadership team saw my passion and encouraged it. Conceison, Jake Binnall and Chair Arpit Jain helped me develop my skills and involved me in projects to help Registered Student Organizations. In fact, that has been their mission since day one.
Without Conceison and Binnall, there would be one less woman in finance. In one semester, I have become the Vice Chair of Ways and Means and the highest-ranking woman in SGA finance. My committee relies on the relationships we develop with RSOs and the trainings we provide. With Conceison’s guidance, I have developed good relationships with RSOs, which puts me in a better position to help them succeed. Like finance, leading the SGA isn’t for the faint of heart. Conceison and Binnall have never quit their projects when they became difficult, even though others may have. They understand commitment.
From my perspective, Conceison and Binnall have been the strongest advocates for the student voice. They have amplified underrepresented perspectives, worked for inclusivity within the SGA and built strong relationships with administrators responsible for decisions regarding affordability and accessibility. This is crucial for success, and Conceison and Binnall are the only candidates who possess this ability.
Actions speak louder than words, and Conceison and Binnall have concrete plans and the means to accomplish them, which are clearly outlined on their website. They always put students first—offering advice, support and resources to everyone they meet. The more I work with Conceison and Binnall on projects including First Generation Advising centers, the Champion’s Fund and the Sustainability Council, the more I’m amazed by their character, intelligence and compassion.
Accomplishments aside, what I value most about Conceison and Binnall is that they aren’t scripted. They speak from the heart out of concern for students. Their focus has never been on their own images. They’re not flashy people; they don’t hold big photo-ops or practice performative activism. Instead, they work hard and get things done. It’s important to look beyond rhetoric and image, and at actions and plans. When I look at Conceison and Binnall, I see accountable leaders who will work to make UMass better not only for myself, but for each and every student.
It is comforting to see candidates with a clear plan that we, the voters, can hold them accountable for. Conceison and Binnall are here for the right reasons, and I can’t endorse them enough.
Allie McCandless is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.