A voluntary demotion is when a Senior Member feels that they do not belong in their current Ajah or Community and that they need to find a new one where they fit better. The process of voluntary demotion is a difficult one, and is set up as such on purpose. The prospect of leaving one's Ajah or Company is not to be taken lightly, nor should it be taken for granted. The Administration and Membership take a Senior Member's changing of Ajah or Company very seriously, and it should only be done as a last resort. Not all who petition will be approved. Those who are given approval to leave their Ajah/Company must meet certain criteria. It is important to understand that voluntary demotion is not a procedure easily approved.
If the only reason for leaving an Ajah/Company is a matter of people involved rather than the concept of the Ajah itself, the member is not likely to be approved. The member must present his or her petition so that it is clear that this member should not be affiliated with his or her present Ajah/Company. Appropriate reasons include no longer fitting the profile given for the present Ajah/Company, or visibly fitting the profile of another Ajah/Company more ideally than the current one.
A Senior Member wishing to change Ajah/Company affiliation will petition the Director of Membership at the appropriate time before each new term, which start in January and July. If approved, the Senior Member will be required to demote him/herself to Accepted/Soldier and partake in the guesting system. He or she will guest in two Ajahs/Companies at a time and will be able to Aspire to his or her newly-chosen Ajah/Company after twelve weeks.
Community Members electing for voluntary demotion are not eligible for raising until six months after they have demoted, and many have found that it took them longer to be raised again to Senior Member than the minimum length of time required. There are many different reasons for this.
The voluntarily demoted Community Member will be a Junior Member in truth, rather than any special in-between rank. Although he or she will be given the courtesy of not being required to give a further contribution to the Tower, in all other ways he or she is to be treated in the same manner as any other Accepted or Soldier. He or she will be raised eventually through the Hall and will be subject to all the strictures inherent of the Junior Member rank. At the same time, it is important to know that it will not be the same Junior Member experience as other standard Junior Members. There is a history already formed with many other Senior Members, and this does not just disappear. Voluntary Demotion should not be perceived as a slate clean, do-over option. It is, rather, a shifting from one situation to another.
The voluntarily demoted Community Member must appreciate that other Ajah/Company members might have a challenging time getting used to this Community Member under a different affiliation. Members especially of the new Ajah/Company to which the Community Member would choose to Aspire might be overly cautious. It might be as simple as wishing to know for certain that the Community Member will not change his or her mind again, before warming to the concept fully of him or her as a member of their Ajah/Company.
At the same time, it should be respected that the Junior Member chooses the Ajah/Company, not the other way around. Raising to Senior Member for a voluntarily demoted Junior Member is not up to a vote with the new Ajah/Company. Members of this group will of course have input which might be put into the raising packet gathered by the membership administrator and shown to the Hall, but ultimately, raising is up to the vote of the Hall, like any other raising.
The voluntarily demoted Community Member is encouraged to take his or her time in deciding, and to not endeavor to rush the process. Likewise, someone who has demoted should not feel rushed through the process. If you find that you are being pressured to choose (or to not choose) a particular Ajah/Company and that you are not being allowed to fully enjoy the guesting, please contact your Membership administrator.