Here's my published letter to the editor of the Michigan Daily that appeared in today's paper. As a strong opponent of gambling because of the consequences faced by many gambling addicts, I decided to submit a letter to the University of Michigan student paper. When I noticed an article (also front page above the fold) about the second suicide jump from a parking structure two blocks from Hillel and a feature story on alcohol abuse at fraternity parties, I chose to combine all the issues into one letter reminding students about the resources that organizations like Hillel offer to students in crisis.
Campus organizations reach out to students needing help
To the Daily:
I was quite saddened by three separate articles in the Feb. 16 issue of the Daily. These three articles all dealt with challenges many students face on campus today; namely gambling addiction, depression and alcohol abuse (Students win, lose big with online gambling; Second student this month jumps to death; Greek spirits, 02/16/2006). While I was saddened by all three articles, I was also happy to see them appear in the Daily, as I hope they might help to educate our campus community about the seriousness of these issues and encourage those who are affected to seek support.
Gambling has become the largest form of entertainment in America. I am well aware that games like Texas Hold 'Em poker have become very popular and that online gambling, as described in the article, is the current trend on campus. Compulsive gambling is an addiction that begins with seemingly innocuous activities. Some young people are especially prone to the excitement of winning. However, the spiral of decline caused by gambling addiction is a thoroughly studied phenomenon leading to burgeoning debts, lies, theft and in the most serious cases, murder or suicide. I would hate to see more young people's lives destroyed due to gambling addiction.
I also applaud the University for any new policies that seek to curtail the dangerous binge drinking that is so prevalent on campus. If this course of action prevents tragic deaths, like that of Courtney Cantor, then it is unquestionably necessary. As a member of the executive board of the Association of Religious Counselors, I know we will continue to work with Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper to find ways to eradicate binge drinking at the University.
When students are facing gambling addiction, dealing with drinking (or drug) problems or suffering from depression, I hope they will take advantage of the many organizations on campus where they can turn for help. In addition to the University Counseling and Psychological Services, religious institutions on campus like Hillel offer counseling services and resources for students and can help refer them to advanced professional care.
Rabbi Jason Miller
The letter writer is the associate director of the University's chapter of Hillel.