U.S. Christian university requires students to wear fitness trackers, sparks debate

February 5th, 2016 by | Posted in Electronics, Running Gear | Tags: , ,

Oral Roberts University
Photo: Gizmodo.

Students at Oral Roberts University, a private Christian institution in Tulsa, Okla., are now required to wear Fitbits to track and record activity as part of a health and physical education class.

Incoming freshman are required to wear the fitness-tracking device to quantify activity. The collected data is going to make up a portion of a student’s overall grade.

The Fitbit Charge HR costs students U.S. $150. The price point has been the subject of a number of student complaints according to Fritz Huber, professor of health and fitness at Oral Roberts.

All 900 freshmen will be required to wear the wrist device. The program will continue to roll out over the coming years so that eventually the entire student body has a Fitbit tracker.

RELATED: Your fitness tracker and GPS watch may be spying on you.

Oral Roberts University students are required to abide by the school’s honour code which includes no smoking, no drinking and no premarital sex. Students are expelled if found violating the school’s honour code.

According to the university, the tracking device only records data related to fitness and does not use a GPS-tracker.

RELATED: Fitbit releases smarter, trendier Fitbit Blaze.

Mike Mathews, the chief information officer at the school, told Vice Motherboard that the Fitbits will only monitor heart rate and are intended solely to determine whether students have been reaching the 10,000-step requirement each day. Students are expected to participate in 150 minutes of intense weekly exercise. Twenty per cent of a student’s grade in the physical education class is based on the data collected through the Fitbit.

According to The Verge, Fitbit is currently involved in a class-action lawsuit because it’s been alleged that heart rate readings may be inaccurate.

RELATED: Fitbit Surge gets endorsement from Barack Obama.

In response to the lawsuit, Fitbit said in a statement that “Fitbit trackers are designed to provide meaningful data to our users to help them reach their health and fitness goals, and are not intended to be scientific or medical devices.”

The university ends fitness tracking at the end of each semester.