College Forces All Freshmen To Wear Fitbits, Track Their Exercise Levels

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Blake Neff Reporter
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A Christian college in Oklahoma enacted a new policy that compels all incoming students to purchase Fitbits to track their movements and make sure they get enough exercise each week.

Oral Roberts University (ORU), a small evangelical school in Tulsa, has long emphasized physical fitness, students are even graded for their performance in various exercises. Combined with the school’s strict code of conduct, the policy helps ORU have a healthy student body.

But while previous students were allowed to record their activities in handwritten notebooks, this year’s freshmen have their every step, heartbeat and calorie burned automatically directed to the school’s databases through Fitbit devices they are required to wear. With the Fitbit tracking their every move, students are expected to walk at least 10,000 steps a day while elevating their heart rate for a certain amount of time each week.

The program has been in the works for some time, but it first attracted widespread attention when the university bragged about it in a press release, which was picked up by Tulsa World Friday. The school says the new approach saves faculty members hundreds of hours of work keeping track of student physical activity. The report also notes that student exercise data can still be recorded even if a student is on the other side of the world.

“Our students can be in Africa for spring break and the system will still be recording data,” ORU chief information officer Mike Mathews told Tulsa World. “No other school is doing what we’re doing. No other school is capable of bringing the data into their system.”

ORU President William Wilson even boasted about the new program in the press release.

“ORU offers one of the most unique educational approaches in the world by focusing on the whole person — mind, body and spirit,” said Wilson.

The school says it has sold over 550 Fitbits (which cost about $140 each) in the campus bookstore.

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