Oklahoma university requiring freshman to wear Fitbits, spurs concerns over tracking data

All incoming freshman at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., will be required to purchase and wear a Fitbit, and the school will track and assess students' physical performance. While the university says the technology helps fulfill its mission of focusing on the "Whole Person — mind, body and spirit," the requirement draws questions over the automated tracking of personal data.

Oral Roberts University has integrated fitness into its curriculum since 1965, but previous generations of students had to manually log aerobics points in a fitness journal. Now, the university is automating the capturing and recording of health data. Fitness data, which the school refers to as "aerobics points" will automatically be logged in the university grade book for the "Health Fitness I" course.

According to an Ars Technica report, students must achieve 10,000 steps per day, and activity levels make up 20 percent of a student's grade in the class.

Additionally, the report says students must purchase a Fitbit with heart rate tracking capabilities, but do not need a model that tracks GPS data.

Ars Technica asked Oral Roberts University Provost Kathaleen Reid-Martinez if students have the option to opt out of the Fitbit requirement, and Ms. Reid-Martinez said such an issue has not presented itself yet. "If a student cannot physically wear a Fitbit, we'd comply with the American Disabilities Act and work with that student to develop an alternate process," she said in the report.

While the Fitbits are required for new students, the program is available to any student who wishes to participate. Oral Roberts University says its campus backstore has sold more than 550 Fitbits, though students are also purchasing them from other retailers.

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