Some professors at the University of Regina say they were being muzzled by the institution following a public event earlier this week at the school of journalism.
On Monday, faculty and students in the journalism school attended a lecture by the chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, Lawrence Joseph.
In response to a question, Joseph talked about the controversy surrounding the firings and departures that have gripped First Nations University for the past two years.
"He said that he felt it was an overenthusiastic response from someone that should have taken more time to think about the situation and be more collaborative in the approach," journalism instructor Robin Lawless said.
Joseph reportedly acknowledged that all of the controversy has been damaging to FNUC and pledged that politics and academia won't be mixed at the institution again.
Following that interview, three faculty members who have concerns about being identified said their department head asked them not to talk to the media about it. Comments should come through a university spokesperson, they say they were told.
Journalism student Jill Smith said it's ironic this could happen at a school of journalism.
"They're journalism instructors," she said on Thursday. "If they aren't able to talk about it, that's pretty ridiculous."
Ben Cecil, the acting head of the journalism school, said many of Joseph's comments were off the record, so he won't talk about what he heard.
But several students who attended the lecture said Joseph's request to be off the record applied only to a set of remarks unrelated to the comment about the ongoing FNUC controversy.
Cecil denies he told faculty members to keep quiet.
"There were no threats, there were no comments made to them about this issue and I don't know where that comment is coming from, quite frankly," he said.
Cecil says he has no problem with professors talking publicly within their area of expertise, but if people want to know what Joseph said, they should ask him directly, he said.
However, Joseph declined to comment Thursday.