Massive backlash forces Michigan university to back down from enforcing medical device to monitor coronavirus symptoms
By Arsenio Toledo // Aug 17, 2020

Earlier this month, Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan, hatched out a plan to require students to wear a “BioButton” while they are on campus to track whether or not they have the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). However, thanks to massive backlash from the student population, the plan to mandate the medical device's use was scrapped.


The BioButton, made by Colorado-based medical technology company BioIntelliSense, is a wearable single-use device that monitors a person's vital statistics, such as their heart rate, respiratory rate and body temperature. It's meant to be worn on the chest and it can be connected to a person's mobile device.

“It provides additional information for health screening,” said the university in a now-deleted post on their website. “The button will be used in conjunction with the daily health assessment to determine if you are able to participate in campus activities. The individual data will remain private to the wearer and is not shared with others.”

According to David Stone, the university's chief research officer, using the BioButton provides several advantages for residents, such as the device's ability to notice abnormalities in people's vital signs before they even take a test for COVID-19.

“That would limit the potential for outbreaks on campus, and that's what we're looking for,” said Stone.

Many students have raised concerns about their privacy being violated and their data possibly being stolen by BioIntelliSense, but Stone claims that the university doesn't even have access to their health information.

Instead, the BioButton rates whether a person is on “green alert” or “red alert.” People whose status is green are free to go about their business. But if the university's health services department receives a “red” alert, an official will call the wearer to ask them questions about their health.

Stone also touted that the BioButton would be helpful for the university's contact tracing efforts because it can tell people if they have had significant contact with somebody who tested positive for COVID-19.

This is just the latest example of institutions trying to use the coronavirus pandemic to advance their Orwellian coronavirus policies. Learn about one such directive by listening to this episode of the Health Ranger Report, a podcast by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, as he talks about how Los Angeles is threatening to cut off water and power to homes and businesses that do not comply with the city's coronavirus lockdown measures.

Successful protest makes university back down

In response to the new mandate at the university, a group of Oakland students launched a petition against the new policy, titled “Make the BioButton Optional for Staff and Students at Oakland University.” (Related: Tech in the time of coronavirus: Artist designs masks that can UNLOCK smartphones using facial recognition technology.)

Along with concerns over privacy, the petitioners also alleged that university officials attempted to hide the new policy by burying the article deep within the university's website.

The petition garnered more than 2,500 e-signatures after just one weekend, which represents around 13 percent of the entire student body.

Many of the students who signed the petition had similar concerns regarding how much data the BioButton can take.

“A large portion of students feel that this [is a] violation of their privacy and some students have stated that their rejections of this idea come from a religious basis,” wrote Tyler Dixon, the main organizer of the petition.

“I understand the reasoning behind getting tested for the virus and I am all for that,” said Cayla Stus, an incoming freshman. “But having to wear something that monitors [my health information] … just seems like too much.”

“I did not consent to this when I signed my housing contract,” said Reese Petruska, another student. “This should have been clearly stated before contracts were locked, and should have been clearly outlined in any and all emails sent to residents.”

Because of the massive backlash, Oakland was forced to listen to its students, and its mandate for residents to wear the BioButton was scrapped. Now, students have the option of either wearing the BioButton, which the university said they will be providing free of charge, or answering a health screening survey that will clear them to go to class.

Learn more about how institutions are attempting to deal with the pandemic at

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