Petition fights to allow student to finish school

By Keith Hernandez

A petition signed by almost 1,300 people calls for NIU to allow a student charged with aggravated battery to finish his engineering degree.

Juan Rodriguez, 22, of DeKalb, is charged with the Oct. 12 stabbing of a DeKalb man on College Avenue after a fight broke out during a party. The victim’s injuries were not life-threatening.

The petition, posted on by Alexis Rivera, a Sterling High School math teacher, says Rodriguez encouraged Rivera to create a Latino group for students at the high school and mentored many of the students; however, the petition does not say if Rodriguez has faced disciplinary action from NIU. An NIU spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Rodriguez is a member of Alpha Psi Lambda and was president of the NIU Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers from spring 2011 to spring 2012.

“He was a role model to pretty much everybody,” said Jose Hurtado, a senior electrical engineering major who was vice president of the engineering organization during Rodriguez’s presidency.

Hurtado said the pocket knife used in the attack was not meant to harm anyone as it is used to strip wires for engineering projects.

Rodriguez’s next court appearance is 9 a.m. Dec. 10.