University Makes Fitbits Mandatory

Data will be sent to central computer
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2016 2:27 AM CST
University Makes Fitbits Mandatory
The large praying hands at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla.   (AP Photo)

In a move that critics say is more Orwell than Oral, freshmen and transfer students at Oklahoma's Oral Roberts University have been told that Fitbits are now mandatory—and failure to log at least 10,000 steps per day will affect their grades. The Christian university has had physical fitness requirements for students since it opened its doors in 1965, but until recently, students were required to log points in a fitness journal instead of using the fitness-tracking device, which will send data directly to a university computer, reports the College Fix. The university says students have authorized it to collect data on steps taken and heart rate, and they won't be tracked through GPS data. The health data will make up 20% of each student's grade in the "Health Fitness I" class.

Provost Kathaleen Reid-Martinez tells Ars Technica that "if a student cannot physically wear a Fitbit, we'd comply with the [Americans With Disabilities Act] and work with that student to develop an alternate process," though it isn't an issue she has had to deal with. A sports and health professor tells the Washington Post that the previous pen-and-paper system for logging fitness levels was inaccurate and time-consuming, and the only griping he's heard about the Fitbits has been related to their $150 cost. In addition to the 10,000 steps daily, which works out to around 5 miles, students are also required to engage in 150 minutes of "intense activity" (as signaled by their heart rates) a week. Premarital sex, however, is banned. (Fitbit's 2016 didn't start off so great.)

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