Redbrick Comment: Let’s Hall Be Friends

My name is Victoria, I’m a second year and last year I lived in Shackleton Hall. Thoughts?  Of course you have ideas, generalisations, probably a few stereotypes about what I would be like because of the place I lived last year.  Despite the chants, my dad doesn’t pay my fees and I’ve got a student loan.  I have friends who lived in Tennis Courts, Elgar and dare I say it, Mason.  Even a few from the Beeches and Pritchatts Park.  This year it would seem that your Hall of Residence, the place where you were randomly allocated to live, defines you.  Hall Rivalry has amplified for the Freshers of 09 with cruder chants coming from louder voices and having witnessed it first hand as a Hall Ambassador for the Freshers this year, I fear that the fun and banter  I used to enjoy and revel in may be being taken a step too far…

When I touched down in Shackleton this time last year, the patriotism and pride for it wasn’t half as strong and I believe it was similar for a lot of the other halls.  I didn’t even know who our RA were or what they did until the new one was elected.  But the class of 09 are already devout Shackletonians, living and breathing in not only the smell of Fusion food, but true love and admiration for their hall and now much admired President.  I think this is brilliant.  I enjoy the Hall spirit, the sense of belonging that most Freshers crave in their first few weeks of University and I believe this territorial outlook is necessary, to an extent.  The jokey chants that fly between Aitkin, Mason, Jarratt, Vicky Halls and the rest is amusing and the banter can be quite exciting.  It’s fun, it’s games and the healthy competition is a good way to meet and interact with people from different halls who you may not otherwise speak to.  In the first few weeks of Uni when you don’t know many people apart from your flat or block mates, revelling in a bit of hall on hall teasing is good and totally relevant.

But then you hear the rumours that a Fresher got egged by other Freshers from ‘opposing’ Halls.  And you hear gossip about those Tennis Court boys who urinated on Mason windows.  I was even confronted by a Pritchatts resident in Mechu on a night out who (drunkenly) made her opinions about the Vale and the ‘fat ugly’ girls who lived on it well heard.  Is this not ridiculous and a fine example of the step too far I was referring to?  Isn’t that dismissing the banter (yes I love that word) and really putting meaning to the ‘rival’ in Hall Rivalry.  I understand that in a jokey fashion we say things about other Halls and their residents but not seriously, on a night out in Mechu?!  And what does it matter anyway?  At the end of the day we are all here, studying for a degree at the University of Birmingham.  Aren’t we all in the same place? Won’t most of us move to Selly Oak after our year in Halls is up?  Shouldn’t we be making as many friends as we can rather than enemies with people who are exactly the same as us apart from their address?

The notion of the ‘battle of the halls’ is always going to be current, whether we like it or not.  I’m sure that Colourfest in a few weeks will see some fierce competition and hopefully some mutual fun for our Freshers.  I do believe it is entirely necessary to feel the Hall spirit and some pride for your Hall, but let’s leave it at that eh?  Let’s forget the aggression and enmity and make the most of Freshers year without eggs and confrontations.  I reckon we should hall just be friends…

Printed in Redbrick: 12th February 2010

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