A former political science major and current Georgia State law Student, Ira Livnat has had a lengthy and impressive resume at Georgia State. As the former captain of Georgia State’s mock trial team, past CEO of the Panther Hacker’s and the current Speaker of the Atlanta Senate at Student Government Association at Georgia State, Livnat is more involved with student life than most.
As Speaker of the Senate, Livnant’s responsibilities are lengthy. Some of his tasks include overseeing the senate, advising senators and committee chairs, working with liaisons and being a member of the campus executive committee.
“In a word, I am a guardian of the Senate and the SGA,” Livnat said. “It’s my job to make sure everything is being done appropriately and to shield the SGA from any external threats or influence.”
Livnat’s time in student leadership began when he was invited to meet with former Student Government President Franklin Patterson after the two met at the university’s president brunch. When their talk had ended, Patterson convinced Livnat to run for student body president.
“A meeting that was supposed to last thirty minutes ended up happening for three hours,” said Livnat. “After that meeting, I had decided that I was going to run for student government.
After a brutal campaign his freshman year, Livnat was not elected to a spot in the SGA. Rather than giving up his hope, Livnat used the loss as motivation. He saw it as his unfinished business, promising himself he would come back and claim his spot.
His time in student government did not end, however. After seeing the work he did for his own political run, Kaelen Thomas asked Livnat to head his campaign. And thanks to his work, Thomas became the 91st Student Government President.
Livnat then took a three-year-long hiatus from student government. He continued with his education and personal life, but his promise to come back and claim a position within SGA was still on his mind.
So in April of 2021, he ran for and was elected into the position of senator. And only two months later, Livnat was elected to be the Speaker of the House.
Livnat got straight to work. He created a plan focused on giving power back to the students. His main goal is to make it clear to students that they have more power in influencing the university than they think.
“I want to give as much power back to the student body as possible,” he said. “I want to remind the University that their bureaucracy and corporate world is of little to no importance to us. I think they forget that they are here because we are here. There should be more power shifted to the students.”
Some of his main goals in this cycle include handling low enrollment in student programs, addressing sexual misconduct, informing students on their actual amount of power with the university and making sure the SGA’s focus is on the benefit of the university.
Another one of Livnat’s main focuses is to move as much money back into the hands of students as possible. Whether it be physically in their hands or whether student-led committees are in charge of and can allocate the funds, he feels as though since students pay tuition dollars, they should have a good amount of control over cash flow.
“I believe that we are making sufficient progress in that direction, and It’s one of the things that I am most proud of doing,” he said.
Over the years, Livnat met many people that motivated him to be the person he is today. Many of his friends have introduced him to student government and how to never back down from a challenge. He also spoke highly of his parents and how watching them over the years made him the person he is today.
“I could truly go on and on about the people that inspire me,” he said. My parents, who sacrificed everything they had and ever knew to give my brother and me a better life, and turned me into someone who wasn’t afraid to question a narrative, to challenge assumptions, and defend their ideas.”
He also spoke of former student government senator Terry Fye. He described his and Fye’s friendship and advice as invaluable and something he would always be grateful for.
“If there was ever an example of a senator that everyone should aspire to be like, it was Terry Fye. He was relentless in his pursuit of the truth and unwavering in his moral composition. I aspire to follow his leadership and morality in my work.”
Livnat stated that he believes he has grown up most at Georgia State when looking over his life. From the people he had met, the programs he was a part of, and the challenges he faced, he compared his past three years at state to what some people go through over forty years.
However, the most challenging part for Livnat was not the real challenges he faced but the goodbyes he had to say. With many of his colleagues and mentors being older than him, he was tasked with seeing them leave and make the necessary transition to the next point of his life.
“This year is one long goodbye for me,” said Livnat. “It’s a long goodbye where I, in a way, get to tie everything neatly with the bow; I get to finish all those things I said I was gonna do and keep the promises I kept. I get to deliver my promise to the students and I’m looking forward to doing that.”
And as the year begins, who knows what those things might be.