University of California (search) regents Wednesday rejected a proposal to add a "multiracial" box to application forms. Critics complained the plan would make it harder to collect data on minorities.

The regents' educational committee voted 12-1 against the additional category.

Regent Ward Connerly, who is of white, American Indian and black descent, argued the box would give students more options in defining themselves and recognize a growing segment of the population.

"Multiracial is an identity for some people," he said. "They don't want their kid to choose between this or that."

Opponents said UC's current policy of allowing students to check as many boxes as apply follows federal guidelines and produces more reliable data. "We don't define ourselves by what box we check," said Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, who is also a regent.

UC applicants now have the choice of checking one or more of 13 race or ethnicity boxes including "other." Checking the boxes is voluntary. However, UC reports the data based on the five categories mandated by federal officials: American Indian, Asian, black, Hispanic or white.

Some critics charged Connerly with promoting the new boxes as a way to obfuscate racial data.

Connerly campaigned last year for an unsuccessful state initiative to stop UC from asking applicants about race. He also led the effort to drop UC's old affirmative action (search) programs nine years ago.