Florida Blue Key, or FBK, is a student organization at the University of Florida
. It was founded in 1923
to organize an annual "Dad's Day" event before homecoming
, but grew over the years as a leadership society that trained almost all of Florida
's most prominent politicians, businessmen, and lawyers. Some famous Blue Key alumni include:
During the 1970's and 1980's, it was safe to say that Blue Key more or less controlled the state of Florida. There were a number of reasons for this. Obviously, the organization offered its members unparalleled networking
opportunities. More importantly, it was also one of the most intensely political organizations of any college campus: fraternities
were constantly engaged in back-room dealings over who would get which officer position, and Blue Key itself resorted to extreme measures to keep control over the student government
, especially the presidency. This gave FBK members an extraordinary field education in political science
, although it did get way out of hand on many occasions.
The most damning instance of this occurred in 1995. Charles Grapski, a UF student not affiliated with Blue Key, ran for student body president. Blue Key responded by posting fliers across the campus claiming that Grapski had been convicted for sexually assaulting a minor. Grapski sued Blue Key and won a jury award of $250,000 from the organization.
Since the Grapski suit (which is now forgotten by most students but still fresh in the minds of staffers), Blue Key's power on campus has been somewhat diminished. It still has a certain level of power over student government, but its main function nowadays is to coordinate homecoming events (such as the famous Gator Growl show), hold an annual fall banquet attended by a prominent keynote speaker (John Ashcroft in 2003), and run an annual high school debate tournament.
Blue Key's political weight outside the university has been much more seriously eroded. This has little to do with the organization's indiscretions: UF's prominence has simply decreased as more and more people have moved to Florida from outside the state. Nowadays, alumni from FSU, UM, and other universities are equally prominent in government and business, and arrivals from out of state (or out of country) have taken over key positions as well (Jeb Bush, for example).
However, FBK is still a prestigious organization, and many students work hard to get in. It may not have a monopoly on power, but it's still a good way to get into the game.