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University of Oklahoma to ban alcohol

A recent death from binge drinking at the University of Oklahoma has led the school to ban all alcohol on campus starting in January. NBC's Jim Cummins reports.

In the University of Oklahoma student union, students cram for their final exams. But their big test comes next semester when the university bans alcohol everywhere on campus.

The moves comes after Blake Hammontree — a 19-year-old freshman — died at a Sigma Chi fraternity party. His blood-alcohol level was five times the legal limit.

His father Jack is left with one main question. "Where did this binge drinking come from?" he asks.

Binge drinking is defined as four to five drinks in less than an hour. It killed five college students, some under the legal drinking age of 21, in four states in September alone.

Among the victims, 19-year-old Samantha Spady, who police say may have consumed as many as 40 drinks at a Colorado State University fraternity.

Twelve days after Spady's death, a chilling 911 call came from the Chi Psi fraternity at the University of Colorado. "We got a guy who's passed out. He drank way too much and we found him this morning" said the caller.

That "guy" was Lynn Gordon Bailey — a freshman pledge for less than 15 hours when he died from alcohol poisoning.

Back in Oklahoma, Blake Hammontree's death has led to one criminal indictment. And Oklahoma University president David Boren says the one death on his campus was one too many.

"This is a problem that's rampant all over this country and at colleges and universities from coast-to-coast," says Boren.

The crackdown on alcohol abuse will have its biggest impact along fraternity row. Studies have found a strong relationship between binge drinking and the availability of alcohol at fraternity houses and dormitories. Students will be fined for possession of alcohol and after three offenses suspended from school.

Blake Hammontree's dad says it's a first step.

"They're going to be angry at us now, but we'll sleep well because it's the right decision," says Jack Hammontree.

That decision to go dry begins on Jan. 18.