Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma now requires incoming freshmen to have and wear a Fitbit.
Beginning with the fall 2015 semester, all 900 freshmen were required to wear and use a Fitbit. The students will be graded on strict fitness goals.
This new rule is said by university president William M. Wilson to be in support of the school’s mission.
“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 university has always maintained strict mandatory fitness goals. Students are required to average 10,000 steps per day, and 150 minutes of intense activity (measured by heart rate) each week. This data will add to their grade in health and physical education courses.
In the past, students measured their activities on extensive charts, which then converted the results into a point system. Professor Fritz Huber of the Health, Leisure and Sports Sciences Department did not believe this system was very accurate, and wanted to find an easier, more accurate way to track student activity and progress. Huber and Oral Roberts studied these health monitoring devices for several years before making them mandatory for students.
The cost of the device has been the only complaint regarding the new requirement. Oral Roberts specifically requires the Fitbit Charge HR model, which usually costs $150.
Although this device is capable of recording heart rate, activity, calories burned, location, movement and sleep patterns, Provost Kathleen Reid-Martinez said the school remains sensitive to privacy concerns. Only exercise times, number of steps and heart rate are recorded and sent to a school computer to log the data. Students’ weights and diets are not logged by the school.