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Students Back Holcomb

By Nicholas Lemann

Four black and third world student groups last week issued a statement of "wholehearted support" for Sherman L. Holcomb, a black dining hall worker who is trying to have two warnings removed from his record.

The warnings charge Holcomb with excessive absenteeism and with disrupting an employees' meeting. Holcomb says he was legitimately sick on the days he was absent and that the meeting he is charged with disrupting was actually one he organized.

The statement said, "We view the University's actions as discriminatory and aimed at denying the rights of all University employees to have a strong union," adding, "These University practices are detrimental to the interests of all students in the University, especially minority and working class students."

Holcomb and officials of the Harvard chapter of the Local 26 of the Cooks and Pastry Cooks Association will meet Friday with Personnel Office staff to discuss the warnings.

In addition, Holcomb says his super-visor, Frances Sweeney, called him a "damn nigger," which both Sweeney and Edward W. Powers, director of employee relations, deny.

Alan Balsam, general shop steward for the Harvard dining hall workers, said last night the student groups' endorsement is "helpful" and "indicates that the entire Harvard community is watching this case."

The groups supporting Holcomb are Harvard-Radcliffe Afro, the February First Movement, La Organizacion Boricua de Harvard and the Organization for the Solidarity of Third World Students.

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