Turning Back the (Index) Pages of Time

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Mary Lee Planer worked on the Pacific Index in 1972

Whether you pick up the newspaper or recycle it, you weren’t very different from the students at Pacific 50 years ago.

Fifty years ago, The Pacific Index was four-page newspaper that was, still thrown in front of dorm hall doors, just like every biweekly edition is today in 2022.

And back then, MaryLee Planer, 72 years old now, and graduating class of 1971, worked on the Pacific Index for two years as an editor and was responsible for keeping The Pacific Index turning out papers. Planer attended Pacific for two years before finishing her degree at Portland State and then earning a MBA at Marylhurst University. She had planned to major in Journalism, but landed in Communications when Pacific changed programs.

“I remember I had a statistics class that made me cry and gave me nightmares,” chuckled Planer in a recent interview with the current Index Editor-in-Chief.

   A Forest Grove native and a graduate of Forest Grove High School, Planer is a natural storyteller; it only makes sense that her favorite writing for The Pacific Index was feature stories. After entering a state-wide journalism competition in high school and placing in the top three, she met the Pacific journalism advisor at a workshop. She committed to The Index even before she had graduated high school.

“I love feature stories because of the detail,” explained Planer. “I think the most interesting story I wrote was with a student at Pacific, he was from New York, and he went to Woodstock, and I did almost a full-page feature story on his experience in Woodstock.”

   During her two years at Pacific, Planer was also very involved in the media department, filling up her calendar as much as possible. She worked in the Public Information department, did a weekly radio interview, helped produce a class catalog, and worked on the school magazine. In her weekly radio interview, she covered various topics and often gave updates on upcoming events, like sports. Once a week, she would walk up to her advisor’s office on the second floor of Marsh Hall to do a phone interview and tape it. For a moment in time, she was one of the best-known voices on the college radio station.

   Another of Planer’s memorable stories was about two events that were back-to-back. First, a brawl broke out over the hidden Boxer statue in the courtyard in front of McCormick Hall. The tradition involved stealing the Boxer Statue and hiding it somewhere on campus for other groups to find.

   “Whoever had it from the previous year would just toss it somewhere on campus; they would just throw it out,” exclaimed Mary Lee. “Then word of mouth would spread, and it was a brawl, it was a fisticuff, and they were rolling around, pushing, and shoving and jumping on each other, and whoever got it and could get it away, they kept it until that group threw it out again.” — Emily Rutkowski


Major: Journalism

Hometown: Mesa, Arizona

Hobbies: soccer, track, being outside, hiking, writing

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