CFA Becomes the MAC, and Students Ask Why

By CAROLINE KAPP

NICK GARBER/THE MIDDLEBURY CAMPUS
Signs announcing the rebranding are posted around the Arts Center.

After being known for 27 years as the CFA, the Kevin P. Mahaney ’84 Center for the Arts is undergoing a name change. College officials have decided to rename the building the Mahaney Arts Center, or the MAC — a change that has provoked confused reactions from students, some of whom insist on continuing to use the building’s old name.

The Center’s weekly ArtsMail message to the Middlebury community on Sunday, Feb. 3 highlighted the change and outlined the history of the building’s name. According to the email, the building opened as the Center for the Arts (CFA) in 1992, but was renamed the Kevin P. Mahaney ‘84 Center for the Arts (MCA), in 2007. While this acronym was officially used by the college, it was never widely used by students or other members of the college and Middlebury community, who continued to refer to the building as the CFA.     

With this change, we hope to achieve some much-needed clarity about the building’s identity, and its programs, too.”

— Liza Sacheli

“With this change, we hope to achieve some much-needed clarity about the building’s identity, and its programs, too,” said Director Liza Sacheli in an interview with The Campus. “We hope that the shorter, catchier name is easier to remember and use.”

The decision was made by college administrators, Arts Center staff, the Office of Communications and Marketing and the Office of Advancement. The changes were also approved and supported by Mahaney.

Quickly following the Feb. 3 email, the Facebook group Middlebury Memes for Crunchy Teens erupted with comedic criticism of the acronym change. “CFA ‘til I die baby,” Christian Chiang ’20 titled his post. “BREAKING: New Big Mac Not Going to Stop Students from Being Petty About Meatless Mondays, More At 6,” wrote Susan Deutsch ‘19.5.

Students also reported their discontent with the name change to The Campus.

“The MAC just sounds like an order at McDonald’s,” said Kaitlynd Collins ’19, a Theater major, who felt strongly about the change and criticized both its purpose and its implications. “There is no clear reason to change the letters in a freaking acronym!” she said in a text message, arguing that the college is trying to change the way students talk.

“Literally, why?” Elizabeth Sawyer ’19 said. “How is this going to do good in any way? What are we gaining?”

Collins speculated that the name change could have been done to provide greater publicity to the building’s namesake, a major college donor, though she did not see how changing the acronym would further recognize Mahaney.

If someone says, ‘I’m headed to the MAC,’ it’s not like Kevin P Mahaney’s face will be projected in a golden light as the letters leave their mouth.”

— Kaitlynd Collins '19

“If someone says, ‘I’m headed to the MAC,’ it’s not like Kevin P Mahaney’s face will be projected in a golden light as the letters leave their mouth,” she said.

She also pointed out that prompting students to recognize Mahaney in this way could be uncomfortable for some individuals. Last January, Mahaney was accused of covering up the rape of a 20-year-old woman, In March, the charges were dropped. “He potentially covered up a sexual assault and I don’t want to acknowledge him in my day-to-day life,” Collins said.

Sacheli reported positive reactions from students, faculty and staff regarding the changes, adding that people expressed excitement over the simpler name.

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