During their annual men’s pageant Friday night, the University of Michigan Law School stressed the importance of diversity among Latinos and Latinas in the Law School.
The pageant, called Mr. Wolverine, is an annual Law School tradition since 2003. This year’s Mr. Wolverine included 10 Law students singing, dancing and performing impersonations of teachers for their peers and a panel of judges.
The history of the Mr. Wolverine pageant is rooted in promoting diversity. University alum Alicia Broughel, former LLSA member, founded Mr. Wolverine to inspire Law School students to give back to underrepresented communities.
The proceeds from the pageants go toward Latino Law Students Association’s Comunidad Fellowship Program, which gives financial support to LLSA members working in unpaid summer public internship positions such as the Michigan Migrant Legal Assistance Project, Public Counsel of Los Angeles and Atlanta Legal Aid Society.
The judges for the event included Sarah Zearfoss and David Baum, assistant deans at the Law School. The hosts were Law School students Adam Hester, Robert Hines, Eric Cox and Abe Matsui.
This year, Mr. Wolverine modeled itself on this year’s Oscars, using the platform to highlight the criticism the Oscars received due to its lack of Black nominees. One of the hosts even mimicked Chris Rock’s opening monologue.
“I am here at the Wolvies, also known as the White People’s Choice Awards,” said Cox.
The show featured group dances, short skits and a talent show performed by students. Students were encouraged to vote to select one of the four finalists, while the judges chose the three others. The competition ended with a first in the history of the event tie between Law students Thomas Canny and Seth Buchsbaum.
“One of you is Mr. and one of you is Wolverine,” Zearfoss, who announced the winners, joked.
Amy Luong, Mr. Wolverine production staffer and Law School student, said the program aims to increase awareness about the lack of Latinos, Latinas and other underrepresented minorities in the Law School, while recognizing there is much more that needs to be done to diversify the field.
“The problem isn’t only about getting through the door; it’s also about getting to the door,” Luong said. “Latinos, for example, have the highest high school drop-out rate, as compared to non-Latinos. As a whole, minorities continue to face significant barriers in the legal profession today.”
Several Law School students said they came to support the cause of promoting diversity in their profession.
“It’s hard not to hear about it,” Law School student Lesia Fedorak said, “I am here to support the Latino Law Students Association. And it’s been heavily advertised and there’s no way I would have missed it.”
Luong said she believes diversity is essential to the legal profession.
“Diversity in the legal profession is important because as the country’s population becomes more diverse, clients are also becoming more diverse and want a legal professional who they can relate to and who can adequately represent their legal needs,” Luong said. “Attorneys with a diverse background bring unique and different perspectives into the legal field. In turn, this allows the legal profession to provide better services to a wider clientele.”