Many universities within the UK have on-campus accommodation, giving an easy way to move away from home without the full independence of finding your own place and dealing with lettings agencies. They give you an opportunity to meet a great number of people very quickly and develop friendships. This seems like a perfect first step and choosing your halls is a simple and straightforward task, where you pick how much of your life you want to spend with other people, with shared or private kitchens, bathrooms and other facilities.
The choice of halls can, however foster strong in-group/out-group mentalities between students. Those in the most expensive halls, the cheapest halls, the loudest and quietest halls, they all develop a reputation, and instantly those not in your building, even your flat become, to a degree, other. It is easy to develop an in-group bias and an out-group prejudice (Brewer, 2007), which can become fixed if not addressed. This can build animosity between halls, and although seemingly harmless can persist for the whole of university.
Within each university, subject, halls and even flat, there is a reputation that exists from within and without, and the in-group mentality can cause this to increase and your identity as a member of this social group to become more of a defining characteristic of you as an individual (Tajfel, 1981).. As those who chose a certain living arrangement spend more time with like-minded people, it has been suggested that they become even more like minded, due to exposure to mutually shared opinions, causing a greater polarity between social groups and homogeneity to appear amongst its members (Sunstein, 2002). The rich get perceived as richer, the loud get louder, and what may have started as an easy decision could impact upon your entire university life.
Brewer, M. B. (2007). The social psychology of intergroup relations: Social categorization, ingroup bias, and outgroup prejudice.
Sunstein, C. R. (2002). The law of group polarization. Journal of political philosophy, 10(2), 175-195.
Tajfel, H. (1981). Human groups and social categories: Studies in social psychology. CUP Archive.