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With preparations for this month's Republican National Convention in high gear, Penn's working hard to finalize contracts with different organizations looking to use University facilities for convention activities.

But one thing's for sure -- The Daily Show's Jon Stewart is going to be scrutinizing the week's activities from Penn's own Zellerbach Theater from August 1 through 4.

"It's definitely signed, sealed and delivered," Director of Conference Services Jeff Barta said of the contract with Comedy Central to film The Daily Show at Penn.

Outside of the deal with Comedy Central, Penn will play host to approximately 1,000 volunteers and guests for the convention, which will last from July 29 to August 4.

According to Director of Housing and Conference Services Doug Berger, the visitors will mostly stay in Hamilton College House and parts of Harnwell College House. Included in those using Penn's facilities for the week are 250 interns from a Washington, D.C.-based program, 600 members of a youth volunteer program, parks service representatives and smaller groups like the camera crews from NBC television news. However, the housing contracts aren't finalized, Barta noted.

"Right now everyone's still scrambling now that the hotel assignments are out," he said.

In the hotels around the University, the ABC and Fox television stations will take up the Inn at Penn, while the California delegation to the RNC -- the largest of any state's delegation -- will stay at the Sheraton.

But the University's role in the convention isn't going to be limited to housing those traveling to the area for the event. Penn is also offering up available meeting space for different organizations to hold events during the convention.

"What we're trying to do is provide a venue for individuals who are hoping to hold their events at the University," said Jack Shannon, the University's top economic development official.

According to Shannon, various receptions and symposiums will be held at Penn throughout the week-long convention, and a hi-tech conference is tentatively slated to be held on campus during the convention.

The University is using the RNC as a way to combine the academic nature of political conventions with the event itself, Shannon said.

"We want to take the University's resources and leverage them in an appropriate way," he said.

And Barta said that the University's resources were crucial to bringing the convention to Philadelphia, which has not seen a political convention since 1948, when both the Democratic and Republican parties met in the City of Brotherly Love.

"Quite basically, it's being a good neighbor to Center City," Barta said of Penn's involvement in the convention. "We definitely have resources that were vital in making the 2000 bid work for Philadelphia."

However, all three University officials were quick to note that Penn had a lot to gain from the national media attention and slew of visitors the convention will bring to campus.

"Like everyone else in Philadelphia, we hope to showcase everything that's great in Philadelphia," Shannon said. "And we hope to include Penn."

While some worry that the increasing use of the Internet to report news will cut back on the television coverage of the RNC, Shannon and Barta both said this didn't really worry them.

"At this point, it's not anything we're too concerned about," Barta said of the changing media outlets.

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