In some organizations, the hakama is something worn only by yudansha (black belt wearers). I think it gained some prestige by this association.
Once I witnessed a third kyu (thus, senior-ish student) who usually folds sensei's hakama getting yelled at by a newbie yudansha for letting a third dan fold sensei's hakama (ie presumably not diving soon enough for it? who knows?). Needless to say, this had a lot more to do with the newbie yudansha's attitude than reality. He later made excuses for his behaviour by saying that the third dan had his own to fold and the upper kyu students were failing in their responsibility to contribute to the dojo chores somehow.
(hint to newbie yudansha: please don't let your newfound responsibilities cause you so much stress you take it out on your kohai. They never forget your harsh words.)
Sometimes being permitted to serve Sensei's needs is a mark of honor, in that Sensei is letting himself depend on you, when he doesn't need to. So it's not really an ego thing where I train. I unintentionally introduced "folding sensei's hakama" as a ritual in a flegling dojo. This was because I saw Sensei was busy running around at the end of class only he could do, greeting visitors, handling financial things. I knew how to fold a hakama, and it saved him time and was soothing to me as an after class ritual and cool-down, having no hakama of my own to fold. I suppose the sight of me folding it every time caused other kyu students to be curious, so a few would hang out with me and chat as I folded it and I taught them how. It helped contribute to dojo bonding, my personal friendships and my personal perspective. So I do have a personal history where the hakama folding has emotional weight. To me it can be another way of communicating: your caring for sensei, sensei's trust in you (to do the job right and not mess up his hakama), and it can be a comforting ritual to pass on to others.
great diagram of how to fold a hakama on www.bujindesign.com
I mean, it's as personal or as impersonal as cooking. Sure, you can make your own chicken noodle soup, or eat the canned stuff, your whole life and not feel like you're missing anything. But it somehow it's more savory when someone else makes it for you, especially when you're stressed or harried -- that's a sign that someone else cares. But if no one offers you chicken soup that doesn't mean you're not loved!
The problem is that some overly zealous egotist can co-opt this ritual as dogma and pervert into an issue of control and politics. But this can happen for any ritual, when we become removed from the original purpose of the activity. People come along and rationalize its existence for selfish reasons. Let me know if any of you figure out how to apply aikido to this kind of behaviour!