Student Senate discussed the option of an environmentally-friendly commencement gown and a potential human rights event series at its meeting Wednesday night. Interim University Registrar Chuck Hurley said Balfour, the University’s commencement gown vendor, now offers an environmentally-friendly gown made of 23 plastic bottles. Students could purchase the new gowns for $45, which is approximately the same price as renting the current gowns for two days, Hurley said. The new gowns would not be available for rent. “You can take [the new gowns] home with you to take pictures,” Hurley said. “If you want, after the ceremony, we’d have recycling bins that you can put them in. You also can put them in a recycling bin back home, and it would go right through and become plastic.” The Notre Dame emblem could be added to the black gowns, but Hurley said he does not recommend this option. “It’s an additional $6 charge if you add a crest to it,” he said. “I would like to not add the crest just because of that extra price.” Hurley said seven of the eight Ivy League schools currently use these “green” gowns. “It’s what most institutions have switched to or are switching to right now,” Hurley said. For every gown sold, Hurley said Balfour would donate 25 cents to a University sustainability initiative. This would amount to approximately $600 to $700 per year. “If this is something you’re interested in, then I would take it forward with the University [Office of] Business Operations,” Hurley said. Student body president Pat McCormick said collaboration between the Athletic Department and the student body is an ongoing conversation. “We might be exploring some combination of an advisory council to the Athletic Department and also striving to solidify relationships with student government in the halls so athletics can know how to engage [with students] more actively,” he said. McCormick said student government is also engaged in an ongoing effort to host a human rights series at Notre Dame this spring. The event would have a Saint Patrick’s Day theme. “Our proposal would involve an internationally recognized event consultant who has done events of this type before, and our hope is that the University would find this proposal worth pursuing,” McCormick said. “This is part of the effort that we’re trying to advance this year in terms of this argument that students can serve as partners in the project of advancing the Notre Dame mission and that student government can work simultaneously on both issues of convenience and issues of consequence.”
Hiker escapes cougar by hitting it with an axe A hiker in British Columbia who was stalked by a mountain lion escaped by hitting it with an axe, officials say. The man was hiking in a remote area that has little public access and was not on a hiking trail when the cougar began following him. The hiker reportedly jumped over a log to escape and that’s when the cougar came after him and the man hit it with a hatchet. The man left the scene quickly but when he looked back the cougar was still there, though it did not follow him down the mountain. Conservation officers with a dog team searched the area the following morning and did pick up on the cougar’s scent but could not locate the animal. Officials say that it is rare for cougars to approach people and the cougar may have just been curious. The hiker was not injured.Hiking trails at Congaree National Park should open again soonHiking trails in South Carolina’s Congaree National Park have been closed for two months due to flooding from the Congaree River but that should change shortly, park officials say. Water levels at the park are finally dropping and hiking trails will soon be accessible to the public again. The water damaged a part of the boardwalk and maintenance crews are assessing and working to repair the boardwalk, which will remain closed. In the meantime, hikers are encouraged to use the elevated boardwalk and the Sims trail to access the park’s other hiking trails. Panel to discuss Smokies 900-Miler Trail ChallengeGreat Smoky Mountains National Park has nearly 900 miles of hiking trails. Completing every single trail in the park is known as the ‘Smokies 900-Miler Challenge.’ On Tuesday, February 19 at 7pm, Friends of the Smokies and Nantahala Brewing’s Asheville Outpost will host a panel discussion featuring three hikers who have completed the 900-mile hiking challenge. Attendees will hear the stories of how each panelist succeeded at the challenge, and gain insight into how people of all walks of life and ability levels can tackle the trails of America’s most-visited national park. For the entire month of February, proceeds from Nantahala Brewing’s Dirty Girl Blonde will benefit Friends of the Smokies. Nantahala Brewing is located at 747 Haywood Road in Asheville.