A US university in Tulsa, Oklahoma really cares about its students’ physical education. Perhaps too much. All incoming freshmen will now have to wear Fitbits to track their fitness levels.
Oral Roberts University—named after a Christian evangelist—has had mandatory fitness requirement since the university first opened in 1965. In the past, students would have to note down the amount of steps and exercise they’ve undertaken in a fitness book. Now, the university is embracing wearable technology to monitor and grade their students’ fitness levels.
William Wilson, the university’s president, proudly boasts in a statement that it’s the “first university in the world to offer this unique approach to a fitness program.” Apparently, the only complaints the university received have been about the money: A Fitbit costs $150 each.
The Fitbits will only be used to log heart-rate data and the amount of steps students take. Students who fail to make “satisfactory progress” in their fitness requirement will be deemed “deficient” and will need to enroll for more fitness classes the following semester. If students still fail to break enough of a sweat, they risk not graduating at all.
There aren’t many colleges that still make students meet physical-education requirements. In the 1920s, around 97% of universities had physical-education minimums, but that number dropped to 39% by 2010.
Oral Roberts University has a number of strict rules; students aren’t allowed to drink, smoke, or engage in premarital sex. This has led some to question whether the devices would be used for more nefarious means. The Fitbits used to have a “sexual activity” category, which was promptly removed after users were unwittingly sharing details of their sex lives on Google.
But rest assured, a representative from the university insisted they would not be able to use the device to track who’s having sex—nor would they want to.