A comedian and broadcaster who was praised for quitting his presenter job at BBC Radio 1Xtra in protest at the use of a racial slur on the network, is to give a free talk about how to deal with adversity and voicing opinions as part of Birmingham’s City University’s Get ready for uni: live programme on Friday 30 July.
Sideman, real name David Whitely and who was born in Jamaica before moving to Birmingham aged 12, has built up a following of hundreds of thousands of fans on Instagram with his observations around cultural identity, society, entertainment, music, sport and politics, making him a household name amongst young people across the UK. Sideman will bring the University’s two-week long programme of masterclasses aimed at helping new students prepare and settle at university to a close with a discussion around dealing with setbacks, becoming more resilient, and actively sharing values in a positive and professional manner.
Speaking ahead of the session, Sideman said, “I think in this time, more than ever before we must measure our words as well as the words of others, measure how much you stand by what you are going to say before you say it, especially in the face of potential backlash, and how much that affects you, measure how much importance you actually place on outside influences.
“Words can go very far and be very impactful, and that can be a good and a bad thing.” Get ready for uni: live follows new survey results which highlight young people’s concerns around their move to higher education post-Covid.
Making friends at university is the top worry for Birmingham college leavers, according to research undertaken by Birmingham City University, with 61% of respondents in a recent poll suggesting meeting new people was more of a concern for prospective students than managing money or finding motivation to study. In August 2020, Sideman resigned from his role as DJ and presenter at BBC 1Xtra, following the use of a racial slur in a BBC New report, which resulted in 18,600 complaints to Ofcom.
In a video to his 330,000 Instagram followers at the time, the star said, “I've thought long and hard about what I'm about to say and what it means. And on this occasion I just don't think that I can look the other way”, adding, "I just don't feel comfortable being aligned with the organisation".
Since leaving the BBC he has taken up new roles, and is currently is currently the co-host of the first Amazon Original podcast in the UK, Amazon Music's +44 Podcast, where alongside Zeze Millz he talks about the biggest stories and trends in UK Black music and culture. The comedian and broadcaster previously appeared with Birmingham City University Centre for Brexit Studies Director Professor Alex de Ruyter in a video in which the two explained Instagram and Brexit to one another.
Get Ready for Uni: Live, running between Monday 19 July and Friday 30 July, features sessions on managing finances, how to look after your wellbeing, how to adapt to university study, and making the most of your summer. Sessions are open to anyone preparing to enter higher education regardless of where they plan to study. Watch back facilities will be made available as a free resource to be accessed by all interested in university study.
The two-week series of hour-long online sessions at 11am also includes a Q&A with Birmingham City University Media, English and Drama, and Interior Design graduates Scott Campbell, Ella Cockerton, and Claire Watts – now working for ITV, Birmingham Royal Ballet and IKEA respectively - on kickstarting your career in media and TV, volunteering whilst at university, and making a home for the first time. The University’s survey, which polled 94 young people aged 17 to 18 from across the West Midlands, also revealed that 56% were nervous about starting university, and that 47% felt partly prepared for the transition.
Chatting with friends online, watching streaming services, and learning a new skill ranked top of the activities respondents enjoyed most to stay motivated during lockdowns and home schooling. 49% of those surveyed expressed an interest in taking part in sessions to be productive and manage time ahead of starting university, and 48% were keen to learn more about self-care and mindfulness.