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Many graduate students who live in the building are upset that they and their families may be forced out soon. In a decision that has drawn vehement opposition from some residents of the facility, University officials announced this week that Mayer Hall will become an all-undergraduate residence next year. The decision has angered and concerned some current tenants of Mayer -- traditionally graduate students, many of them with families -- who did not expect the full turnover to take place so soon. "If we had known that this building was going to be undergrad, we would not have moved in here," said Bessie Gessner, a nurse at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania whose husband is a Wharton doctoral student. "We would have made other arrangements." Housing officials met last night with a small group of concerned Mayer residents to discuss the decision and future housing options for those affected, which include moving into the two Sansom Place towers or finding off-campus accommodations. Many of the residents expressed anger at the lack of prior notification about the decision, which was announced to the residents in a letter delivered Monday. "You're throwing us out of here," first-year Education graduate student Daphne Hernandez said, adding that she feels graduate students at Penn are "not getting the appreciation that we deserve." And Christina Alexiou, a first-year City Planning graduate student, said she, too, felt that the decision reflects a bias in favor of undergraduates at the University. "We're the future leaders of this country and we're going to give this University a good name if we're successful," Alexiou said. "I feel like a piece of trash just being thrown in the garbage." Officials said they are "committed" to meeting with all concerned residents individually to help them find new homes, and will consider the possibility of granting individuals the right to stay until their degrees are completed. "We'll hear their case and we're going to be sensitive to their needs," Director of Housing and Conference Services Doug Berger said. "We're going to be limited to what we can do there, but we will sit down with each student and see what we can do." Despite the backlash, Stouffer College House Dean Anne Mickle said most Mayer residents have taken the news well, adding that a good portion of the current residents are graduating this year and will not be affected by the decision. "So far the response has not been volatile [but] some residents have expressed dissatisfaction with it," Mickle said. Transforming Mayer -- administratively part of Stouffer for the past two years -- into an undergraduate dorm will meet the increasing demand for undergraduate housing on campus as well as bring the facility in line with the two-year old college house system, Director of College Houses and Academic Services David Brownlee said. Officials announced plans last semester to make Mayer all-undergrad over the course of the next few years, a program that began this fall with the conversion of two of the facility's six floors to undergraduate dorms. "With the enormous demand we have for undergraduate space on campus, this seems like a reasonable time to continue and complete the plan of converting it to the college house system fully," Brownlee said. Brownlee said Mayer Hall will likely undergo minor renovations as part of the University's 10-year dorm and dining overhaul, expected to cost more than $300 million.

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