Florida Blue Key vs. Burning Spear

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Florida Blue Key Honor Society and Burning Spear are two societies  at the University of Florida and at Florida State University respectively that have earned a rank among secret societies around the U.S. From the Machine at Alabama to Skulls and Bones at Yale, these secret societies usually have movements going on in student government, and even at times at the state and local level. There is very little information documenting the growth of Burning Spear or its history. However, FBK has left an extensive paper trail online and in newspapers. Mostly, The Independent Florida Alligator and at times the Fine Print haven been covering FBK for a while. At times, there were also blogs who covered only SG politics at UF, but they have since disappeared. Here are links to very informative stories:

4/24/2012: Blue Key membership controlled by powerful few

6/29/2011: Unite Party uses ‘system’ to rule

8/25/2010: Price of Apathetic Politics

3/31/2010: Court Docs Tell Story Behind Unite Tapes

2/24/2009: Unite Party benefits from discriminatory power system

2/10/2009: The Keys to Power

2/29/2008: Gator Party corrupted by power

Here are links to financial information found online about FBK:

  1. National Center for Charitable Statistics: You can find tax forms and nonprofit information here.
  2. Sunbiz: You can find filing information and annual reports on FBK here.
  3. Alachua County Public Records: Here you can find all legal disputes that FBK has ben involved in. Also, try searching Charles Grapski to get more information on the Grapski case.


For many, college is all about the degree. Our group came across the accountability reports for the 2010-2011 academic year for UF and FSU. It’s a real data gem. According to the report, UF offered 328 degree programs, although FSU only offered 287. UF awarded more baccalaureate degrees than FSU. It awarded about 9,000, and FSU awarded nearly 8,000, but that can be expected. UF has an undergraduate population (32,064) that’s slightly larger than FSU’s (30,946). Here are links to UF’s Accountability Report and FSU’s Accountability Report.


Academic integrity is important. We’re all familiar with the FSU cheating scandal back in 2007. We did some research to compare each school’s efforts to combat cheating and found UF’s Academic Integrity Task Force Report for 2011. According to an article from the Independent Florida Alligator, “In a survey conducted by the Academic Integrity Task Force in 2011, 46 percent of the faculty who teach undergraduate courses did not report an incident of cheating to the Dean of Students Office. But 70 percent of the 958 faculty members surveyed said they witnessed academic dishonesty in their classroom in the past three years.” We would provide a link to FSU’s academic integrity report if we could find one…

Employee Pay

Gov. Rick Scott posted employee salaries for all Florida public universities last year in an attempt to promote his “accountability budgeting.” Check out the Orlando Sentinel database: employee pay at universitiesProfessor William Friedman receives the highest salary at UF: $808,437. Lecturer Sarah Cain receives the lowest, $1.01. Eric Barron, the highest paid professor at FSU receives $406,850, about half of the highest paid professor at UF. The lowest salary at FSU is $102.00, which professor James Combs and associate professor Valerie Shute receive.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Here’s what UF’s Office of Research had to say about The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA): “The Act dedicates billions of dollars to support science, engineering research and infrastructure, with more limited funding directed towards education, social sciences and the arts.” You can find that definition here: http://research.ufl.edu/research/arra.html. We visited
Recovery.gov the U.S government’s official site for Recovery Act data, and it was very helpful with tracking where the money was going. Both UF and FSU are listed on the site as recipients. After searching, we found some reports were not visible.  Some of the available reports had interesting numbers. FSU received a whopping total $63,835,258 in just one of the reports. The majority of those funds were awarded to it’s State Fiscal Stabilization Fund – Education Fund. The highest total we found in the  UF’s reports was $843,955, which was awarded to various research and engineering projects. See every report for FSU here http://www.recovery.gov/Transparency/RecoveryData/Pages/RecipientSearch.aspx?recipname=Florida%20State%20University and here for UF http://www.recovery.gov/Transparency/RecoveryData/Pages/RecipientSearch.aspx?recipname=University%20of%20Florida

So, what’s this about?

Throughout the ages, rivalries have existed. It’s a part of the human condition. We’re all familiar with a few: Coke vs. Pepsi, Macs vs. PCs, Lindsay Lohan vs. sobriety. We decided to investigate a rivalry closer home to us, a group of journalism students at the University of Florida. We delved into the more than century old rivalry between our school and Florida State University. Our site will shed light upon some of the more interesting facts about both institutions. Which one is better? Analyze the facts, and decide for yourself. 😉

Check out this link for a more formal overview: