Meet Student Affairs: Five Questions with Sylvia Jauregui

As students prepare to move to Mizzou, one of our hall coordinators provides advice for achieving success during an unusual semester

From the desk of Bill Stackman, vice chancellor for student affairs

This is a picture of Sylvia JaureguiAs a residence hall coordinator working in Residential Life, Sylvia Jauregui helps students of all kinds find a home at Mizzou. In particular, as a Latinx woman at a predominately white institution, she loves having the opportunity to show representation to students.

Let’s get to know Sylvia!

Bill Stackman: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Sylvia Jauregui: I’ve worked for Residential Life for 16 years. I like to joke that I’m the elder statesman or the matriarch among the hall coordinators.

It means a lot to me to be here for underrepresented students, for first generation college students who don’t have anyone who looks like them or who has had the same experiences as them. That’s what keeps me going.  I want to create a home for them at Mizzou and a sense of familiarity for them.

Representation is important. I want students to see strong women of color working at the university. I want to help them make the transition from high school to college, help them navigate different systems they are not familiar with, and provide resources that they may not otherwise know where to seek.

BS: Aside from the students, what’s your favorite part of the job?

SJ: Something that’s very fulfilling for me, both professionally and personally, is serving as a translator for our Latinx custodial staff who have limited ability in English. While not directly a part of my job, I do it for a few reasons. Most importantly, I do it as I see in them my parents, who don’t speak English. I try to give them the same access that I would want my parents to have.

Equity and inclusion are important to me, and I want our custodial staff to feel cared for and valued as an employee of the university. I’ve done this for years now and it has enriched my life in ways that I didn’t expect.

BS: When students arrive in a few days, how are you planning to manage social distancing in the residence halls?

SJ: We will ask everyone in the halls — students and staff alike — to maintain six feet of distance between themselves and to wear face coverings in public. For the first three weeks at least, there will be no visitors in the halls — not even from other halls.

We will discourage gathering in common areas that do not allow for social distancing. Some common spaces will closed, others will have reduced access. So students can’t just hang out with each other in the lounge, for example.

Custodial staff will clean all high-touch areas several times a day. Our community bathrooms will have more cleaning. Because we’re limiting how often we access student rooms, we’re asking students who live in suites to clean their bathrooms themselves; we’ll provide the cleaning supplies.

To help keep things clean, the shared kitchens in the halls will be closed. Students won’t be able to borrow games from the front desks. We plan to keep computer labs and terminals available, but we’ll ask students to clean up after themselves.

While the weather is still nice, we’ll try to offer as much programming as possible outdoors. For the long term, however, we will be doing a lot of events such as floor meetings and check-ins virtually.

We know this is going to be disappointing to some students, and it’s disappointing for us staff members, too. After all, we do this job because we enjoy the socialization that comes along with it. We know there will be challenges, but we’re going to do the best we can.

BS: What resources are available to help students remain healthy in the halls? What if a student becomes ill?

SJ: We will have hand sanitizer and wet wipes by our front desks to encourage students to clean the they use. We will also distribute face coverings, hand sanitizer and other necessary supplies to residents.

If students exhibit any COVID-19 related symptoms, we ask that they consult with their primary care physician. If they are instructed to quarantine or isolate, we will ask them to return home, if it is safe and they are able to do so. If can’t go home, we will quarantine them ourselves.

BS: What is your best advice for Mizzou students to be successful?

SJ: With the social distancing requirements, you won’t be able meet people in traditional ways, so you’ll have to think outside the box.

Find ways to keep healthy, both physically and mentally. MizzouRec has been a lifesaver for me. People don’t often think of it as a component of self care, but it does wonders to help with anxiety and depression.

If you start to feel overwhelmed, talk to someone in the Counseling Center. Do it early on and don’t wait until October when you’re already burned out or are feeling overwhelmed.

Seek out your Residential Life staff members as resources. We are here for you.

Editor’s note: “Meet Student Affairs,” is a regular series in which I introduce a member of the Student Affairs community.