Homecoming king applies for, withdraws SempleFest permit

By Lori Stover

Reigning Pitt Homecoming king Akere Atte thought he could make SempleFest respectable again… Reigning Pitt Homecoming king Akere Atte thought he could make SempleFest respectable again and prove to the city that Pitt students can have fun without burning couches.

To do this, he wanted to confine all drinking to those 21 years old or older and limit the party to the sidewalks, he said.

So Atte, who lives on Semple Street, applied for an official special event permit through the city. But he said he realized that this would require him to take full legal responsibility for everything that happens at the event.

‘If someone was out there selling drugs, I would have been just as responsible as him,’ said Atte.

He has canceled his request and distanced himself from the planning of the event. But even before then, Atte said, the chances of the city approving his request seemed dim.

In a letter attached to the request, Atte wrote that someone planning with him had ongoing communication with Pitt police Chief Tim Delaney and that Delaney had spoken in support of the permit request.

The city’s special events committee, said Delaney, then forwarded him the request to verify his support.

Delaney denied ever supporting the event and said he only discussed the event briefly with someone who wanted to know the best way to go about holding it.

Atte said this amounted to a miscommunication between the individual speaking with Delaney and himself.

The person who spoke to Delaney declined to comment or give his name.

In the letter, Atte also made a plea to maintain the tradition of SempleFest and allow students to have fun before finals week in a safe and controlled manner.

Two years ago, Atte said, people acted in a more civilized way. The last SempleFest ‘just got too big for itself, and no one was taking responsibility for it.’ After last year, he said the event received a lot of criticism from the community.

Had he decided not to rescind his application and received approval for the event, Atte, who is of legal drinking age, said he would have remained sober during SempleFest. If anyone started to drag out a couch to burn or give alcohol to minors, he said he would correct them.

‘We aren’t stupid. We knew people were going to show up,’ said Atte. ‘I thought we could talk some sense into them.’

Taking an idea from some Greek organizations, he planned to card everyone and to give people of legal drinking age a green wristband that would distinguish them from minors. Anyone without a green wristband would not receive alcohol, he said.

Despite canceling his request, Atte said he would still host his own SempleFest activities with his close friends inside his house and on his porch.

He said he still hopes that students attending the event would refrain from destructive behavior.

‘Just be a person,’ he said. ‘Be the person you were when you were born. We’re not animals.’